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TRWD LAUNCH participant gets a new start, from homelessness to meaningful employment, work training and a place to call home

By May 16, 2024

When Jeff Williams moved to Texas from Rhode Island for a previous employer, he found a lot to like about the Lone Star state, especially not having to shovel snow. He’s since retired from that company, and while events in his life afterward took a turn that weren’t so good, at 64 now, he feels like things are looking up again.

In March 2023, Jeff was one of the first applicants to join the LAUNCH Initiative through Tarrant Regional Water District.  LAUNCH is a three-year TRWD work training program. Those selected for this paid opportunity work primarily along the 29-mile Fort Worth floodway and Marine Creek Lake. The works consists of duties like mowing, operating equipment, building fences, forestry and light welding.

LAUNCH positions are full-time, with 30 hours of on-the-job training and 10 hours of TRWD-provided education each week. The program also offers technical instruction in partnership with Tarrant County College (TCC) for those seeking a Department of Labor (DOL) registered apprenticeship opportunity, like the one Jeff is pursuing.

The goal of LAUNCH is to propel underserved individuals into an educational and professional opportunity that helps them succeed and offers a path to a career. The program fosters individuals’ confidence and job skillsets while furthering TRWD’s purpose of enriching communities and improving the quality of life.

LAUNCH is designed to increase worker marketability, not only for jobs at the water district, but with other employers as well.

“After the three-year apprenticeship, if all goes as planned, I could continue working for TRWD or go make my fortune elsewhere,” Jeff says. “It’s at their discretion, although I would love to stay with the water district. There are some great people working here.”

Helping those who have fallen on hard times

Jeff was led to LAUNCH through UpSpire, a Fort Worth employment agency, founded in 2016, that connects hard-working employees with local employers to fill vital needs in the community. The agency helps those facing job and housing insecurity get back on their feet through opportunities based on respect, empowerment and stability.

UpSpire was there when Jeff experienced a time of homelessness and was searching for a new start – he learned about the program through a local homeless outreach service.

Jeff began as an UpSpire day laborer and was recognized as such a good worker that he was led to LAUNCH when TRWD’s initiative was introduced.

“I had worked for UpSpire for a little over a year, and during that time, they said I was one of the best workers they’d ever had and that I worked circles around people half my age,” he recalls.

Now Jeff is working on TRWD’s Trinity River floodway operations and will start a construction safety course at TCC in early 2024.

“I’m learning various types of equipment like tractors, mowers, tools for maintaining the floodways, and I’ll also be trained on welding and heavy equipment during my apprenticeship. I’m learning valuable skills thanks to TRWD while earning a regular paycheck,” he says.

“I love this place. Being a part of TRWD is great. I’m relearning some things as well as gaining new skills, like how to repair a cable fence or install one from scratch. I never knew about setting fence posts but now I do – ultimately you can learn everything that TRWD does,” he adds.

Finding the road back

Since joining the program, Jeff has been able to get his own place, purchase a vehicle and earn a decent living again. He considers being able to work outside as an additional benefit of his water district employment.

“I owe a lot to UpSpire for putting me here, and I owe a lot to the Lord for leading me in this direction,” Jeff says. “TRWD is right where I need to be, and I hope to stay on after my apprenticeship.”

The next class of the LAUNCH Initiative will be put in place in early 2025.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Current Level Conservation Level* Level Difference**
Arlington 549.37 550.00 -0.63
Benbrook 692.72 694.00 -1.28
Bridgeport 825.91 836.00 -10.09
Cedar Creek 321.78 322.00 -0.22
Eagle Mountain 646.98 649.10 -2.12
Lake Worth 591.84 594.00 -2.16
Richland-Chambers 315.32 315.00 0.32
*Conservation Level: The permitted level of water an entity is allowed to hold in a lake. Any amount above the conservation level is used for the temporary storage of flood waters and must be released downstream.
**Difference: Amount above or below conservation level.
For more information read our daily reports or the TRWD Lake Level Blog.

Check out the TRWD OneRain portal for a visualization of this information and more.

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