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I’ve always wanted to help people in my community. Goodwill gave me the platform to contribute to the city I love.
When he retired as an iron worker, Julius Norman Jr., wanted to give back to the Detroit community. The Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit Welding Training Program gave him the opportunity he was looking for.
Raised in Detroit, Julius has worked as a Welding Trade Program Coordinator for Goodwill Detroit’s Welding Training initiative since May 2014. The 12-week program, located in the Goodwill Green Works plant, is designed to prepare men and women for employment in the welding, construction trade and metal fabricating industry. The program focuses specifically on those who have lost their way or are coming out of the prison system.
“I’ve always wanted to help people in my community. Goodwill gave me the platform to contribute to the city I love,” says Julius.
Julius found his passion for welding at Detroit Chadsey High School in a welding training class instructed by his favorite teacher and mentor, Mr. Beaubien. After high school, he worked in the pipeline and distribution construction industry as a laborer with the Laborers Local 1191 for 11 years. He then joined the Ironworkers Local 25 Apprenticeship program and became a Journeyman three years later. Julius also taught welding part-time at the Ironworkers Local 25 Apprenticeship for the Journeyman upgrade program to ensure young men and women received the necessary training to excel in the profession. With more than 30 years of experience in iron working, he continues to stay involved with the apprenticeship school where some of his former students will attend. He also does motivational speaking for the school when given the opportunity.
Julius found passion in teaching the students of Goodwill’s Welding program. Aside from serving as the program coordinator, he also teaches applied mathematics three nights a week after work to those interested in professional development. At the end of each class session, he offers his students the option to read from the book, “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill, a book he was given 40 years ago and has continuously referenced over the years. He is confident the book will teach the students valuable life lessons.
“Watching my students make it is the best part of my job. They have a reason to get up early and work hard all day. Most come from a background many people can’t fathom and to see them get catapulted up does the heart good,” says Julius.
With the help of Julius, Goodwill’s Welding Program is on the rise, bringing those involved to a brighter future. Since the beginning of the program in 2014, 74 of 76 students have graduated, with 15 students passing the Ironworkers Local 25 Apprenticeship test. All 74 graduates have received American Welding Society Level 1 certification, enabling them to pursue a career in their desired field of welding, including building trades, fabrication shops, and auto and mufflers shops. Many graduates have continued into the workforce. There are currently 13 apprentices in the ironworking trade. Presently, six students are working on the development of the Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit, a project they can take pride in for years to come.
When asked about his philosophy, Julius says, “Keep the positives. Improve on the negatives. I will do whatever it takes to get these students across the finish line.”
Every night Julius goes home knowing he demonstrated his motivation and passion for work in the classroom. Julius credits his wife, Monique for his inspiration and encouragement.
When he’s not inspiring students, Julius stays in touch with his six children who range from attending college to having families of their own. He is still a member of the Local 25 Retiree‘s Club, though time doesn’t permit him to attend the meetings regularly, he still stays in touch with his past colleagues. He also enjoys playing a good game of chess, when time permits. For years, Julius has paved the pathway to achievement for many students involved in Goodwill’s Welding Program – along the way, becoming a hero to many.