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ATR Partner: Home Builders Institute

ATR Job Trainers focus on supporting ATR participants through job training programs, so they have career opportunities after completing the program. While the Home Builders Institute (HBI) is focused on supporting ATR participants as they build their resumes and careers, HBI Boston Program Operations and Carpentry Instructor Greg “Gray” Wilder is also focused on helping ATR participants build self-esteem, self-confidence, and healthy habits to support their recovery.

This 12-week carpentry program is designed to prepare participants for the home renovation industry, but it prepares them for much more. In addition to the course material, hands-on learning, real-world practice in the construction field, and certifications, Gray equips participants with life skills through volunteer opportunities, encouragement, and an emphasis on teamwork. It is safe to say that one of the most unique and indispensable features of HBI’s carpentry program is Gray Wilder himself.

HBI has partnered with ATR since 2020, and we are grateful for the continued dedication to ATR participants in their careers and recovery success. Gray says that in Massachusetts, the construction industry is Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) -friendly, meaning that individuals with a history in the criminal justice system can more easily access employment once equipped with the necessary training and certifications. However, HBI goes beyond the minimum requirements with a lab set up for students to practice their skills and receive guidance from an instructor before heading into the field. Partnering with local charities, Gray has implemented volunteer opportunities where students can give back to the community and practice their skills in the field. “It [also] helps the students that may have had difficulties in their past behaviors, to make amends to society as a whole . . . I make sure that they understand that they’re doing something that’s really good, and they should be proud of themselves,” he shares. Gray takes the opportunity over the 12 weeks to talk with his students about the concepts of learning from “past me” and defining who “present me” is becoming.

Through HBI’s CORE training, ATR participants learn job safety, construction math, and additional trade training to set them up for success. Participants earn a Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT) certificate in carpentry, and Gray encourages students to obtain OSHA-10 and green building and weatherization certifications to boost their resumes. He builds time into each class for students to lead a review where they can practice their presentation skills, while the rest of the class practices respecting the presenter. He arranges for local contractors to do mock interviews with his students, so they are prepared after graduation. Gray explains that there are three things a student needs for an opportunity: willingness to learn, responsibility, and safety. With the time, resources, and effort Gray invests in each of his students, he says, “the only reason somebody isn’t employed when they leave my class is because they don’t want to.”

Gray stays in touch with the students who want to stay connected after graduation—even students who did not finish the course and still look to him for encouragement and guidance. He makes sure that each graduation is filled with past, present, and future students so that they not only form a connection to the program, but also build a network to support their careers. “I want them to work as a team,” he says. As a graduate of the ATR program and HBI carpentry course, Christina says, “[Gray is] the guy who opens the door. I still talk to him to this day. He’s just supporting us the whole way; he just wants to see us succeed.” While Gray is a dedicated teacher of hard skills students need in the construction industry, it is his commitment to nurturing his students’ soft skills, such as forgiveness, compassion, punctuality, and confidence, that makes him exceptional. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with HBI and learn from Gray Wilder’s commitment to each individual’s potential.