KANSAS CITY, Kan. – After COVID-19 slowed operations for several months, a KCK nonprofit that helps people get their GED is making a comeback in an even larger space.
Made Men Inc. used to have a couple of small rooms inside the KVC building on 8th Street in KCK. The president and CEO, Nelson Gabriel, recently secured a building near 15th and Minnesota, partly in response to the ongoing pandemic.
“I’ve been here every day doing something,” Gabriel said.
The organization, which offers GED prep programs and testing for both men and women, is moving into a 4,000-square-foot facility that includes a testing lab, conference and study rooms.
Gabriel said the extra room will allow them to operate while following social distancing guidelines.
“We can do more, being able to spread out classes, being able to spread out testing to make sure that everybody is safe,” he said.
When COVID-19 hit, nearly 200 students working toward their GED had to put it on hold because of the shutdown. More than 100 of the students were already on a wait list, but the organization went from administering up to 20 GED test per day to less than five.
“It was really tough,” Gabriel said. “We yielded 10-12 calls a day. ‘Hey when are you going to start over again? What’s the next step? Are you open yet? What are you doing?’”
Gabriel said they tried Zoom sessions, but it just didn’t work.
“Most of the people we encounter are intimidated by institutional settings,” he added.
Charles McLaughlin is three tests away from getting his GED. The 19-year-old is ready to get back to work so he can join the United States Navy.
“I knew that without my diploma, it would be super hard to get a career, a salaried job, 8-5, normal,” he said.
Billy Neeland knows first-hand the benefits of working with Made Men. He’s the organization’s first GED graduate and now owns a custom motorcycle shop in Leavenworth.
“[Getting your GED] makes a huge difference and they helped me tremendously,” Neeland said. “I’m forever absolutely grateful.”
Gabriel knows he’s lost some students indefinitely, but he’s hoping most of them will notice the additional space and come back.
“If I got to knock on every door and go to their house and say this opportunity still lives for you and you still can do this, I will do it,” he said.
Made Men is set to open on July 1. The new facility also includes a walk-in pantry, and there are plans to build a community kitchen on the second floor of the building.
If you would like to learn more about the organization or signup for GED classes, visit Made Men’s website.