Metro technical school hoping to stop violence by getting people working

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A metro technical school is hoping to help stop the violence, so they're working to get people working.

“I have not always had the best guidance and direction in life,” said Mary Calhoun, a student at New Reflections Technical Institute. “I`m a convicted felon for forgery. I have four kids. I`m a single mother.”

Calhoun recently enrolled in New Reflections Technical Institute, which offers a training program to get her commercial driver's license.

“A lot of companies don`t want to hire felons,” Calhoun said.

“CDL truck driving is one of the highest demand industries in the nation, looking for jobs, so we work with people in the community that have challenges to help them overcome those barriers to get good jobs,” said Mark Byrd, the founder and president of New Reflections Technical Institute.

Byrd said this program helps people get the training they need to get a job and maintain that job -- to keep them out of trouble.

“When I think about the violence that`s going on in Kansas City, I think about providing hope and restoring family values to help people be able to provide for their families,” added Byrd, “Crime happens because people don`t have the resources. They don`t have opportunities available to be able to take care of themselves, so they do silly things.”

Byrd said New Reflections isn't just a school. It has a social mission to help people like Calhoun.

“If you have a job, and you can provide for yourself, you`re not really looking at someone else`s pockets,” Byrd said.

He said a lot of the graduates are out of prison. Sometimes they`re trying not to go to prison.

“When we come here, a lot of us don`t have a lot of hope left,” Calhoun said.

The idea is to keep them moving forward and out of jail -- and hopefully reduce the violence in and around Kansas City.

“We work with other community agencies in the community, who are also trying to reduce violence in our community,” Byrd said. “This is just too much that`s going on in our city, but again, we have to be able to provide opportunities to give them an option.”

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