Jimmy Brown was in a desperate place when a friend shared a pamphlet for what would become a life-changing welding program with him. Now as a foreman in that same program, he offers guidance and restores hope for others living in Skid Row.
“We bring out something that they didn’t even know they had to bring. That’s the beautiful part for me.”
Meet Jimmy: welding foreman
Jimmy: Oh, most people choose to gangbang. I wasn’t — with this part, I always get emotional. I was born into gangs. I had no option. I thought that was the way, because that’s all I was raised around. That’s all I seen. That’s all I knew.
Twelve days before my 22nd birthday, my twin brother got killed. Every morning, from the time my brother passed, I would put one bullet in the revolver. Every single morning, I would spin it and I would click it. If it went off, it went off. But if it didn’t, I would start my day.
But this morning I wake up and I’m just crying. And I don’t know why I’m crying, why I’m feeling like this. So I do what my mom said when I was a kid — she said, “Get on your knees and you pray.” Lo and behold, a friend of mine went to a job fair and he had bring back all kinds of pamphlets for different companies. He specifically saved that one for welding strictly for me. I don’t know why, but he held it for me.
When pastor Steve set our orientation up, the first thing he said was, “I hope you don’t mind that this is a faith-based program.” And when he said that while he was talking to me, I looked up, I was like, “Wow, that’s the fastest God ever answered a prayer for me.” When pastor Steve called me back and asked me if I can help with the program, I was grateful for that because it was like, okay, I’m really able to help people that was in my situation.
(Industrial noise and Jimmy giving instructions about welding)
A lot of people that come through this program don’t think that they have skills, period. But then when they get into the booth, we bring out something that they didn’t even know that they had within them. That’s the beautiful part for me — just to see that smile and that joy on their face like, “Oh, I did it — I can do it.” Yes, you can! You can do anything you want to do. Everybody that tells me, “Oh, I can’t do this. I can’t do that.” Oh, by the end of the program, I’d be like, “Where’s that ‘can’t’? I told you I was going to take ‘can’t’ out of your vocabulary.”