One-Way Ticket to Success

Darius King Capitalized on the Opportunity Construction Ready Gave Him to Change His Life

Darius King describes his introduction to Construction Ready’s Pre-Apprenticeship program as divine intervention. It started with a fortuitous encounter with a woman who was handing out fliers promoting the opportunity at Atlanta’s Westside Works. He never even got her name, but it set in motion a transformation from life on the street to a career as an assistant construction superintendent.

“I was on Bankhead Highway, just standing at a corner store, talking to some guys,” Darius recalls. “She walked up to me and said, ‘I think you need this.’”

Darius followed up soon after that and was accepted into the program. He graduated in December 2017 and began work immediately as a laborer with Hogan Construction.

“I wasn’t working; I was doing the wrong things,” Darius says. “I had to get myself together. I had been in and out of prison and I was missing time with my kids, and sooner or later I was going to end up with a long stint in prison. It was like, ‘This is your ticket out of here.’ So I took it and ran with it.”

Since that time, Darius has never looked back. With Hogan, he proved to be a quick learner and a dependable worker who always got the job done. Within a year he had been promoted to an assistant superintendent position.

Today Darius is in a similar role with C.D. Moody Construction, where he continues to develop his craft and leadership skills. Life is good for him at home as well. He has healthy relationships with his fiancé and children. And he has peace.

“That’s all I wanted out of life, just to find some calm,” he says. “Out in the streets, it’s not calm. Now I don’t have to look over my shoulder, I don’t have to worry about going to prison. I just go to work and come home, and I’m calm when I come home. That peace of mind is precious.”

Darius originally studied welding at Atlanta Tech, but he never was able to find work because of his background. Construction Ready training gives students like him a second chance, and partners with companies willing to do likewise. There are no handouts – it’s truly a boot camp atmosphere in which students are expected to meet high standards of professionalism. As Darius points out, those who make the effort leave the program positioned for success.

“Construction Ready gave me some focus in life,” he says. “I had been through other programs and none of them really worked. At Westside Works, they told us there was no guarantee of a job, but they also told us, if you put your best foot forward, someone probably would give you a chance. That’s the difference between Construction Ready and the other programs – they are putting people into position to be hired. After that it’s really up to you.”

Ever-mindful of how far he’s come, Darius strives to be an example and encouragement to others who might be at risk as he once was.

“I feel like I’m a testament to other guys in my neighborhood,” he says. “I talk to young men and tell them to take the chance and get their lives together, because the other option is prison – that’s all that’s out there otherwise.

“I can truthfully say I would be dead or in prison right now if it wasn’t for Construction Ready,” he adds. “From the road I was going down, it’s been life-changing.”

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