CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — For 12 years now, Hammons Employment Leadership Program, or HELP, has been providing students real-life experiences to help them set goals and join the workforce.
One young man says the program has helped him get to where he is today.
Avner Schroeder, 28, is the owner of South Texas Comfort Control.
He spends his days servicing and installing air conditioners and refrigeration systems, like the one here at Moody's Quality Meats.
But that wasn't always his plan...
“I had plans of dropping out from high school,” he says. “I had stopped going. I was a freshman for the third year.”
Then, Dr. Ridge Hammons and other mentors stepped into his life.
At age 17, Avner was a part of HELP.
“Help is all about finding opportunities for students who might not otherwise have them,” said Hammons, the founder of HELP.
The program takes students on trips to different workplace settings, allowing them to experience career options first hand.
"So my first stop was the police station and then from there I realized I have the ability of becoming something else then just what I was told when I was young." Schroeder says, "Ever since then I have been partially influenced by the program to be in the place where I am now."
Avner went back to school. He had to relearn how to read and write, got his GED and then went to trade school at Del Mar College.
“Just being with Dr. Hammons, we all felt motivated knowing that there was somebody out there believing in us, that we have potential.” Schroeder said.
Now, he invests n the same program that changed his path.
By going out to high schools and teaching other young kids before they drop out that there's a chance for them out there, that they can be a part of their community and they can join the work force.
His reason for it all is simple, but profound …
“To believe in someone just like somebody believed in me at one point,” he says.
Avner is using his own business to make an impact on young kids by employing people who have similar past experiences as his own.