Sen. Snowe spends time with Loring carpentry students

12 years ago
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Contributed photo
Senator Olympia Snowe gets a lesson in electrical wiring from students of the Home Builders Institute Carpentry and Electrical Vocational Trades at the Loring Job Corps Center, from left, Tyheem Jones and Gabriel Cardona, who presented the senator with a pair of safety glasses right away when she entered the workspace.

By Natalie Bazinet
Staff Writer

LIMESTONE — Students of the Home Builders Institute at Loring Job Corps carpentry and electrical vocations were walking on air Thursday afternoon when Sen. Olympia Snowe flew to the center just to meet with them.

With her plane touching down and taking off from the Loring runway, Sen. Snowe spent about an hour and a half at the Job Corps site and nearly all of that time was spent talking with the students.

“I was nervous a bit before meeting her because I heard she had a lot to do with actually getting the Loring Job Corps open and helping it stay open — so without her, I wouldn’t be here right now,” said Carlos Burgos, 19, of Brooklyn, N.Y., but his nerves were calmed when he actually met the senator and found how personable she was.

Community Liason and Work-based Learning Coordinator for LJC Pamela Buck said that the students were very excited to meet the senator — even removing their cherished hats in honor of the senator’s visit.  

“She spoke with every single student, shook each of their hands and talked with them,” Buck described. “If you look at the pictures, the students are glowing; they were so excited that someone so important came to see them.”

Burgos said he was surprised at how personal the experience was, as the senator asked for students’ opinions on how they liked their trades, how they’re doing in their vocations and what they’ve learned.

Sen. Snowe expressed that spending time with the students allowed her to get a sense of who each student was, where they come from and their views about the overall Job Corps program.

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Aroostook Republican photo/Natalie Bazinet
After shaking hands and speaking with each student, Sen. Olympia Snowe took a group photo with students of the Home Builders Institute Carpentry and Electrical Vocational Trades at the Loring Job Corps Center. They are, front row, John Greene Jr. From left, second row: Everett Quattrrone, Carlos Burgos, Desmond French, Sen. Snowe, Dennis Wilder, Brandon Raymond and Thomas Hogan. Back row: Richard Michaud, Michael Morissette, Ashton Parker, Sebastien Gassant and Randolph Plummer.

“I felt uniformly that the students feel very excited about the [Job Corps] program, I think they feel fortunate to be here and to be a part of the program; they understand that what they’re learning and what they’re trained for will have long lasting, significant value in their own lives.”

Another aspect of the Home Builders Institute at Loring Job Corps that the senator couldn’t help but notice was the strong appreciation students had for their instructors.

“That was abundantly evident by the relationships the instructors and the students have, and I think that’s always critically important,” Snowe said.

While the mutual respect between students and instructors is unmistakable, so was the impact Snowe’s visit had on student morale.

“It was kind of inspirational because of the way she explained the value of work ethic and her experiences as a kid growing up, and how work has always been her main goal,” explained Brandon Velasquez, 21 of Worcester, Mass.

“It made us feel important because she visited us instead of any other trade,” Burgos said. “It made us feel like we’re doing something right.”

While the senator only had time to visit the carpentry building during her brief visit, other trades at the Loring center have had their own interactions with important government officials — during the months Burgos has been on center, high-powered visitors have included U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and Maine’s Secretary of State Charlie Summers.

Job Corps officials were given less than 24 hours notice that the busy senator was dropping by for a visit and they were abundantly pleased with the news.

“She’s been very instrumental to the center over the years and we’d hoped with open arms that she’d visit,” Buck explained. While the students were excited that Sen. Snowe allocated time to visit with them exclusively, so were LJC officials when they found out the center was the senator’s only reason for visiting.

As Sen. Snowe was one of the initial supporters for the creation of the LJC, she mentioned that she understands how important the Loring Job Corps program is to its students, the surrounding communities and the nation as a whole.

“[Students] learn everything here — they have to learn to live with people they don’t know, they have to contribute to the community and participate in community events, they help build things for individuals and community organizations and visit the Maine Veterans Home in Caribou,” Sen. Snowe described, “all these things add value to [each student] and to whatever they choose to do in their lives; it expands their horizons and makes them better human beings because they’ve seen the world around them, not just their own, and they’ve learned how they can contribute in more than one way.”