Now I know a lot of people are in a bad mood these days. I know a lot of people are down on the state of affairs, and some are down on West Virginia and the City of Huntington specifically. When I was getting Coalfield Development started I literally had business owners laugh in my face and tell me young people don’t want to work anymore. The cynicism can wear you down. But you have to believe in yourself, in your university, and in your community.
One of our current trainees is named Jared. Jared was a coalminer for seven years. He has three young children. In 2015, his mine shut down. He went from making over $60,000 a year to needing welfare to feed his family. When he finally found work again, it was at a gas station, part time, making minimum wage. Jared will be the first to tell you he had lost faith in his community, believing it didn’t offer him opportunity of any kind. But after two years with us, Jared is about to become a college graduate, the first in his family. He’s part of the first ever solar installation company in southern West Virginia. Jared will tell you that he used to wonder who would make his community better, who would create opportunity for him. But now he sees that the answer is him. “Nobody will fix our problems for us, we have to do that for ourselves,” he likes to say. “We are it.” Jared has the courage to reimagine his life, and the creativity to see opportunity within challenges. Rather than whine or complain about problems, he now has the conviction to become a leader in meeting those problems head on. Today, you now have the opportunity to do the same!