PATERSON, N.J.- New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) YouthBuild launched a new program called FreePair Paterson, a program funded through a $100,000 grant from Impact 100 Garden State.

The YouthBuild program takes 75 students every year and offers them a second chance through a mix of book learning to obtain their high school equivalency certificate and hands on training to secure construction trade certificates. 20 young people from the YouthBuild will cycle through the FreePair program

The FreePair Paterson enrolls young people from Paterson who have not earned a high school degree a second chance to obtain their diploma and simultaneously secure a construction trade certification.

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The program launched on December 21 will complete 500 repairs throughout the Silk City for the elderly and disabled residents over the next 12 months.

FreePair Paterson takes referrals for potential home repairs from social service agencies and churches.

“Through this program, we’re committed to improving the homes of the people who live in this neighborhood by helping them fix everything from a broken door to even changing a light bulb,” said Bob Guarasci, chief executive officer for the New Jersey Community Development Corporation.

Guarasci said FreePair will provide the labor for basic home repairs and cover some nominal costs for supplies. The homeowners will be expected to buy any substantial supplies needed for repairs, he said.

A participant of the program 20-year-old Jaloan Brown of Paterson stated, “I’ve not only learned about construction, I’ve also learned life skills and leadership skills. Now I want to get up every day. I want to help people. I didn’t know I was too bright until I came to the school here.”

Brown stated FreePair Paterson has had a positive influence on his life. He said, “I learned to build wall sockets from scratch in the program and enjoy the hands on work.” According to Brown, the program has taught him skills and given him tools to build his life and hopes to own his own plumbing or carpentry business so that he can build houses.