CLEVELAND - One Cleveland-area contractor has made it his mission to give back and, by doing so, he has taught children how to construct houses from the ground up.
Quinton Durham, 70, has been a contractor for 50 years. When he retired, he decided to help young people. At the Garden Valley Neighborhood House students learn math skills and how to build in a 90-day program.
Tyler Grays, 15, started the program in November and is getting hands-on experience.
"I didn't know absolutely nothing," Grays said. "Mr. Durham took me under his wings, you know."
"We learned how to build garages and right now I'm actually doing a little project for the VA. I'm supposed to be doing a disabled bathroom with Mr. Durham's help," Grays said.
"I looked at the schools and most of the schools they had pulled the trades out of the schools, they have no assets, no way to get into these trades," Durham said. "So I decided I would not want to go to my grave with the knowledge I have of construction, so I wanted to plant it into the heads of others."
Grays' mother and his younger brother are also students of Durham.
"I just thought it would be good for them to have a trade at a young age," Tiffany Grays said.
Grays has a pink hammer is one of the older students in the program.
"My boys learned a lot from Mr. Durham," said the mom. "He took them out and they learned about roofing, waterproofing, and Tyler, he's so far hit two gigs on bathrooms, so he's doing a bathroom now."
Tiffany Grays said Durham has been like a grandfather to the children in the program.
"Easy going, I love Mr. Durham. Love him," she said.
Durham gets hundreds of applications, but he can only take up to 100 students per session. Many of his former students volunteer, but he needs even more help.
"Usually, by the time I'm ready to go with a class, I have about 200 applications," Durham said. "They don't leave out of here unless they can master at least one trade."
"With Mr. Durham's advice, I'm trying to own my own corporation when I get older. I plan on doing this for the rest of my life," said Tyler Grays.
"I know that I will be able to live through my students with the trade that I'm teaching them. I may be gone in a few days, but the skills they possess from me I can live on through them," Durham said.
Durham has been funding this program on his own for eight years. He needs electricians, plumbers and heating specialists who are willing to volunteer to help these kids. He also needs building materials.
If you're interested in helping, you can contact him at 216-376-0944 or 216-641-5558. You can also email him at email@example.com .