Rain showers did not stop members of My Brother’s Workshop from breaking ground in Donoe Friday, where the non-profit organization plans to construct a campus.
“The purpose of the campus is just to broaden our impact on the community,” said Chrystie Payne, communications director of MBW.
Phase one of the campus construction will begin with the development of the Stephenson Family Welcome Center. The center will house the industrial kitchen, the café and bakery, the banquet hall, classrooms and offices.
“What started with four trainees and Scott, using a red pickup truck to go pick up the students on the steps of the St. Thomas Reformed Church as they all went off to work, has transformed into a thriving non-profit,” said MBW Executive Director Jenny Hawkes.
MBW currently serves 100-150 trainees throughout the entire territory. With the construction of the campus, well over 1,000 students will be able to become a part of the MBW program per year.
“The campus will also allow for more workforce development for our youth and adults over the age of 24 through evening courses and vocational training and education,” said Hawkes.
MBW provides carpentry, welding, plumbing, engineering, and baking, among some of its training for students. With the development of the 30,000-foot campus, additional programs will include a parenting and child care service class, retail experience, family counseling, automotive, heavy equipment, appliance, and electronics classes. Other developments for the campus include a workshop center, community center, amphitheater, banquet hall, disaster response, mentoring, and mental health programs.
Governor Albert Bryan Jr. was present to provide remarks about MBW and break ground with the organization. Bryan has dedicated $1 million to the construction of the campus and is anticipating dedicating $4 million more.
“Often, I have to remind our government employees that there are more people in the Virgin Islands than just the people who work in the government … it’s partners like My Brother’s Workshop that really make things happen,” said Bryan as he recollected recently providing funding to a community project in St. Croix.
Of MBW, the governor said, “1,000 kids a year is a tremendous impact. That’s the gift that truly keeps on giving.”
During the ceremony, Payne listed individuals, families, and organizations that have provided financial donations to the project. They are the Feuerzeig Family Fund, Secret Harbour Beach Resort, Columba Energy, the Lana Vento Charitable Trust, Sharon and Fred Hupprich, Anne and Andy Hemmert, the Bruce Marshall Scholarship Fund, the Robert and Maureen Sievers Charitable Fund, Neil and Trudy Prior, Ty and Bonnie Troutman, the Stephenson Family, and an anonymous donor.
The Stephenson Family received the Ambassador of Hope Sponsor award for providing a minimum of $1 million in donations toward the project. The Stephenson Family is also matching all donations made to the project until June 2022.
The campus is anticipated to be completed in four years. However, MBW is still open to receiving donations and sponsorships to construct the campus. Currently, the organization is seeking to raise $3.9 million to fund the first phase of the three-phase project and so far has reached 47 percent of its goal.
“We are still in the process of fundraising, which you can do on our website,” said Payne.
MBW founder Scott Bradley said, “This is an amazing blessing. This is a miracle from 14 years in the making. This is something that is going to make a lot of difference.”
More information about MBW can be found on their website at https://mybrothersworkshop.org.