RCBI programs offer hope, a pathway forward

David Myers is learning valuable new skills and gaining a new lease on life through programs at Marshall University’s Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI).

The 30-year-old Hurricane native recently completed Recovery Works, a one-of-a-kind short-term training program for formerly incarcerated individuals affected by the opioid epidemic. Participants receive hands-on training in the operation of computer-controlled mills and lathes as well as in-person classroom and online instruction in blueprint reading, mathematics, precision measurement, computer-aided design and safety.

Myers was recommended for the program by the team at Marshall University’s CORE (Creating Opportunities for Recovery Employment), which partners with RCBI to provide peer counseling to support emotional development, especially as it relates to maintaining sobriety. In addition, participants receive soft-skills training such as resume writing, job interview preparation and time-management skills development to prepare for re-entry into the workforce.

“I’ve spent 90 percent of my adult life in jail or on the street in active addiction or a rehab facility,” Myers explained. “Coming from that type of background, it’s really hard to get a job, make a name for yourself, get someone to put stock in you…give you a chance. That’s what I love about the people at RCBI. They don’t look at us as drug addicts or ex-cons. They took a chance on us and gave us a potentially life-changing opportunity. For me, it’s already been life-changing.”

Myers now is serving a paid internship through RCBI, gaining additional hands-on experience by helping manufacturers fulfill orders. He’s spent the past few weeks helping machine 3,500 parts for Liberty Hill Company, a Huntington-based manufacturing operation founded by Tad Robinette, who was inspired to start his own business after completing an RCBI machining program for military veterans.
Robinette said he is proud to be able to help people like Myers acquire the skills and experience that make them more marketable.

“As a company owner, I know what manufacturers look for in employees,” Robinette said. “I don’t just want to provide David experience machining parts, but teach him lean manufacturing, from the beginning of the process to the end, things such as how to deal with customers, how to do the two- and three-dimensional modeling and how to do his own machine programming. Then, the quality management that comes after, including properly packaging and shipping parts to customers.”
Robinette described Myers as “hard working, honest, forthright in the way he does his work and in his desire to learn. I feel comfortable working around him, and I think anyone who runs their own business would feel the same.” The retired police officer even has offered to help Myers start his own business – when the time comes.

Myers is excited about the future and what it holds. He is about to complete a CNC Machining Bootcamp that RCBI is offering as part of a national effort to revitalize American manufacturing by focusing specifically on industry’s workforce development needs. And he recently enrolled fulltime in RCBI’s Machinist Technology/CNC Program, offered in partnership with Mountwest Community & Technical College. He’s working toward an associate degree.
“Everyone here (at RCBI) has helped us build self-confidence, which for me is something I’ve never had before,” Myers said. “I’ve just scratched the surface. There’s so much more to learn. I’m realizing I do have abilities. I’m not just drug addict trash.”

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The Recovery Works initiative was made possible through a grant from the Bernard & Audre Rapoport Foundation, a Texas-based philanthropic organization dedicated to improving the social fabric of life by seeking innovative solutions to intractable and persistent problems.

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