Illinois Tollway Introduces ConstructionWorks Jobs Programs to Faith-Based Community
In his 10 years working in various customer service positions at the Illinois Tollway, Messenger Services Supervisor Bryant Rule is used to helping others.
And, it carries over into his life outside the Tollway where he serves as one of the pastors with the Church of God in Christ in Northern Illinois.
“I believe in relationships,” says Rule. “Whatever you can do to help someone along the way, that’s what you do.”
So, when Rule met Terry Miller, the Tollway’s chief of Diversity and Strategic Development, and struck up a conversation in the hallway that included how the Tollway was looking for people eager to work in the construction industry, Rule instantly found a way to connect his work with his passion and help others living in his community.
Tollway staff and church leaders were looped in and plans were made to introduce ConstructionWorks, the Tollway’s program designed to help diverse men and women enter careers in the heavy-highway construction industry, at the Friendly Temple Church of God in Christ on the South Side of Chicago in December.
The day of the ConstructionWorks presentation, about 20 men waiting in the church foyer about an hour before the presentation was scheduled to begin. A half hour later, there were 50 people. By the time the presentation started, nearly 100 people had come to hear about ConstructionWorks. Of those, more than 30 people immediately signed up.
“I think it’s best thing the Tollway has ever done in the 10 years I’ve been here,” says Rule. “Because, in my culture, we have people who made mistakes when they were young. And they just need an opportunity. And the Tollway came along with a plan that gives them that opportunity.”
Based on the success of the first event, Rule requested another ConstructionWorks event – this time to St. Mark’s Church of God in Christ in Chicago in February. More people showed up – about 130 – and 40 signed up to enlist in ConstructionWorks.
After some welcome remarks by Bishop Edwin Walker, the audience heard from several men who had registered for ConstructionWorks at the December meeting and how they were making great progress toward starting their careers in the construction industry trades – good-paying, high-demand jobs such as equipment operators, electricians, iron workers and cement masons.
The news about ConstructionWorks is spreading throughout the South Side – not only in the churches, but in barber shops, grocery stores and on bus stops, says Rule.
“Word is getting out, the Tollway has a plan,” he said. “The Tollway is saying we got it. And not only do we have it, we’re willing to come to your community and bring it to you. Where are you going to find that? We’ll bring it to your community. We’re not just saying it. Everybody says stuff. Everybody promises. We’re saying it and we’re doing it. That’s awesome.”