Gaston College receives grant to fund Building Maintenance Certificate Program

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Gaston College receives grant to fund Building Maintenance Certificate Program

Gaston College has received a grant to start its new Building Maintenance Certificate Program, a training program designed to meet the immediate need for qualified maintenance and repair employees for apartment complexes and commercial buildings such as government and hospital facilities.

Group Photo - Building Maintenance Grant Funding Received

(L to R – Front row) Dr. Patricia Skinner, President, Gaston College; Cindy Ritchie, Territory Job Center Manager, Goodwill Industries; Diane Metcalfe, Director of Occupational and Continuing Education, Gaston College; Jodi Hoffman, Coordinator, Innovative Programs and Certification Development, Gaston College. (L to R- Back row) Erin Cashwell, Program Coordinator and Elizabeth Patton, Grants and Scholarship Coordinator, Community Foundation; Ken Szymanski, Executive Director, Greater Charlotte Apartment Association; Dr. Dennis McElhoe, Vice President for Economic and Workforce Development, Gaston College; Russell Tindall, Director of Operations, Southwood Realty; Ernest Sumner, President, Community Foundation of Gaston County, and Julia Allen, Executive Director, Gaston College Foundation. Not pictured Jennifer Galeazzi, Career Development Manager, Greater Charlotte Apartment Association.

In July 2016, the College requested grant funding from the Community Foundation of Gaston County to develop the program. The College was awarded a Community Foundation $7,000 Challenge Grant to Gaston College in September 2016. The Community Foundation is the leading steward of philanthropic giving by connecting donors with community needs to enhance the lives of present and future generations. It awards annual grants through a competitive application and review process.

A formal check presentation was held on January 11, 2017, in the Myers Center on the Dallas Campus of Gaston College. Ernest Sumner, President of the Community Foundation of Gaston County, presented the check to the College.

“The Board of the Community Foundation felt that Gaston College clearly identified a need for a maintenance and repair skills program,” said Sumner. “The Building Maintenance Certification Program will provide training for up to 50 participants each year resulting in an increase of Gaston’s employment rate. The College also partnered with several agencies to identify the need, discover a solution, and create a plan to make our community better. Community collaboration could not be better defined!”

The Community Foundation grant was contingent upon Gaston College receiving matching funds to further assist in the launch and development of the Building Maintenance Certificate Program. The Greater Charlotte Apartment Association and Southwood Realty provided that funding, bringing the total to $14,000. Goodwill Industries has also partnered with the College to assist with program promotion and class scheduling.

“The Greater Charlotte Apartment Association is thrilled to be a partner in the Gaston College Building Maintenance Certification Program,” said Ken Szymanski, Executive Director of the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association. “This program is responding to a clear need: the current shortage of trained maintenance personnel makes it increasingly difficult to fill job openings. Our regional apartment industry is adding 200 new maintenance jobs per year. Thus, this Certification program will make important strides to ensure that there is a steady pipeline of trained personnel ready to go to work.”

Russell Tindall, Director of Operations of Southwood Realty, also anticipates that the training offered by the program will be a great benefit to the industry. “Southwood Realty is excited and honored to be involved in the creation of this new program,” he said. “We currently have roughly 150 jobs locally in the maintenance field and plan on adding more through the construction and acquisition of new communities. We hope that with the help of Gaston College and the new Building Maintenance Certification Program, we can provide not only a job, but a long successful career to those who complete the program.”

Also at the check presentation ceremony were Cindy Ritchie, Territory Job Center Manager with Goodwill Industries; Elizabeth Patton, Grants and Scholarship Coordinator, and Erin Cashwell, Program Coordinator, for the Community Foundation; and Jennifer Galeazzi, Career Development Manager for the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association.

“We sincerely appreciate receipt of the grant from the Foundation along with matching funding from the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association and Southwood Realty,” said Dr. Patricia Skinner, president of Gaston College. “This funding will support the development and launch of the program which will provide the kind of certification training in building maintenance that owners of commercial facilities in Gaston and Lincoln counties have indicated is in high demand.”

The Building Maintenance Certificate Program will address several needs in the community by providing an opportunity for individuals in need to gain skills for successful employment, increasing the earning potential of residents in need, and meeting the demands of local employers for skilled employees in building maintenance positions.

The program will introduce participants to the skills which will prepare them to perform a variety of duties required for effective maintenance of apartments and other commercial buildings. Successful completion of the program will result in participants receiving a Building Maintenance Certification from Gaston College.

The 190-hour Building Maintenance Certificate Program will include courses in Employability, OSHA Safety, Basic Electrical Troubleshooting and Repair, HVAC, Home and Building Maintenance, Carpentry and Basic Plumbing.

The program will begin at Gaston College in the spring 2017 semester. Those interested in participating must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Must possess mechanical ability
  • Tenth grade reading level preferred

For more information about the Building Maintenance Certificate Program, contact Jodi J. Huffman, Coordinator of Innovative Programs and Certification Development, at 704-922-6250 or

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