New York, NY – Well over 200 apprentices of the New York City District Council of Carpenters traded in their boots and tool belts for suits, evening gowns and dress shoes to celebrate their graduation at the Edison Ballroom last week.

Kareem Garcia, an immigrant from Trinidad that resides in Brooklyn started his journey at the Council of Carpenters in 2015.

“The program is great,” said Garcia. “I came through the Building Works program and I found myself here at the apprenticeship. I was surprised by how amazing it is and now I have a lot of skills under my belt.”

Garcia now has the skillset to build a house from the bottom up and has a specialty in general carpentry.

“What I’m aiming for now is interior finish,” said Garcia. “That is crown molding, doors, the nice work you see on the countertops and more.”

Going forward Garcia wants to open up his own business and eventually teach the next generation of carpenters.

Carl Gregory, a Brooklyn native, started at the program in 2014.

“This for me was about a better career opportunity,” said Gregory, who has a specialty in sheetrocking and framing. “This has helped me to become self-sufficient, it has helped me to venture out on my own and I would like to establish my own business.”

Gregory already registered to start a limited liability company and working to brand himself to start up a contracting firm.

Ast. Director of Carpentry Richard Wong was proud of the over 200 strong that graduated on June 21.

“I’ve seen some of you come up from second year and some of you come up from first,” said Wong. “What I always say to my students is ‘that you get what you give.’ You gave four years of hard work, dedication, respect and good work ethic. Look what you have in front of you now, a 30-year career with good salaries, good wages for your family and yourself.”

During the graduation ceremony the documentary Pa’Lante was screened.

The documentary follows President Bill Keegan of Heart 9/11, an emergency response team, and 500 union volunteers that use their hard-earned talents to fix 200 roofs for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Not only did these volunteers help with the rebuilding efforts on the island, but they also became mentors to locals on the island in the cities of Playita and Orocovis and shared their knowledge so it can be passed on to future generations in Puerto Rico.

“Congratulations to the apprentice graduates. I’m used to saying pre-apprentice graduates because of all the work you did in Puerto Rico,” said Keegan. “Congratulations and good health, and serve your communities well.”


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