Halford says ‘YES’ to future

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Going back to school has helped Covington County’s Chris Halford get his life back on track.

But Halford didn’t go back to school as a student; he went back for a summer job through the Youth Enrichment Services (YES) program.

The program is designed to serve eligible out-of-school youth ages 14 to 21, who are disabled; of low income; pregnant or have children; have a record of minor offenses; are homeless and a variety of other circumstances, to help them gain their GED or become employable.

Halford met the criteria because he dropped out of school in the eighth grade to help take care of his ailing grandmother. By that time, he had attended Straughn, Red Level and Andalusia schools.

He said he had been seriously considering taking the GED for about six months when a friend told him about the YES program.

“I got to thinking it would help me in the long run,” he said. “I heard about it and I talked to Mrs. Ronda Ricks and I took a test. I’ve been in the program for about three months now.”

The educational part of the program has helped him prepare to take the GED, but he also has been improving his job skills through the Workforce Investment Act Summer Youth Jobs Program. He’s spent the summer at Straughn Middle School .

“He has a janitorial type job,” Ricks, who is the Covington County Job Pilot for the program, said. “He has been helping them get things ready for the start of school.”

“Mrs. Mandy Waters helped me get the job,” he said. “I clean up. It’s kind of like a janitor job, and it’s only for the summer. It will be over with at the end of this week. So I’ll have to find something else to do.”

Halford has worked with several staff members at SMS this summer, including Lee Lumpkin.

“He is a diligent worker,” Lumpkin said. “You just point him to the task, and he gets on it and stays on it.”

Lumpkin said Halford has helped with a number of campus projects ranging from cleaning to stripping floors.

Halford said his goals are to get career tech degree in mechanics from LBW Community College- MacArthur Campus after he finds another job.

“I’m not exactly sure when I’ll get to go to school,” he said. “Right now, I’m just going with the flow. I do want to have a good paying job and a nice house. So, I’d like to be able to go to school sooner than later.”

Tomorrow, he’ll actually sit for the GED, armed with the educational and YES program skills he’s acquired this summer.

He’s prepared, he said.

“When you first start the program, they give you a practice test,” he said. “What you don’t remember, they give you work to help you understand it. I feel like I’m prepared, but I’m a little anxious.”

Halford said he’s learned from his experience in the YES program that “you have to work hard for what you want.”

“I’m excited about what the future holds,” he said.

Chris Halford finishes cleaning a room at Straughn Middle School. Halford has worked at SMS this summer through the YES Program. Kendra Bolling/Star-News