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Donor Profile: BB&T Economic Growth Fund

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Facilities Maintenance Technology Certificate Program

Thanks to a two-year, $500,000 grant from the BB&T Economic Growth Fund of the Lancaster County Community Foundation, Thaddeus Stevens College now leads Lancaster in offering short-term certificate training in Facilities Maintenance Technology. Students may elect to take one, two or all six courses in building construction and maintenance fields. Each course is designed to give students basic skills. Students who complete all courses will continue on to paid work experience as part of a capstone project, repairing and maintaining various facilities in the Lancaster area.

In making this grant, BB&T intends to spur economic development by reducing poverty through training for well-paying jobs. The facilities maintenance career field is known as a “High Priority Occupation” in Pennsylvania. That means the job pays a living wage, requires training beyond high school, and has openings that exceed the available workforce.

The first 19 students began in October 2017, having been recruited through PA CareerLink, Tec Centro, and other organizations. The hands-on instruction is held at Tec Centro, in the southeast corridor of Lancaster City. The lab has 1,800 square feet and presents an open, professional environment conducive for technical training. Thaddeus Stevens faculty teaching the courses are Timothy Draper (Carpentry), Michael Gardner (Masonry), Josephine Tyndall (Plumbing), and Michael Oxenford (Construction Electrician). Instruction in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and finishing will also be covered.

The students range in age from 19 to 50. They hail from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Iraq, Laos, Peru, Puerto Rico, and the United States. One recent immigrant is the father of three teenagers. He comes to class and then works second shift to help support his family. Several students are staying in temporary housing due to personal hardships.

Despite their differences, “students are focused and respectful,” said Dr. Tim Bianchi, Continuing Education Project Manager. “They actively participate in lessons and demonstrate an eagerness to apply this new knowledge.”

Their desire for a better life unites them.
“I truly feel this opportunity is a blessing,” said Bobby, a student in the first cohort. “I never had much growing up and felt there was no hope for my future. This program
has allowed me to dream and look forward to a positive outlook on life.”

Students know that employers want to hire people with experience and that having a certificate from Thaddeus Stevens College will give them credibility.

“This program is helping me to get a job,” said Mohammed, another student. “To have a job is to have a life.”

To learn more, visit:

or contact Dr. Tim Bianchi: 717-299-7701 or


Leading in Giving Back

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What do these groups and people have in common: A fireman who’s rehabbing after being burned, Susquehanna Valley Wildcats Boys Basketball, Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, La Academia Charter School, Faith Tabernacle, The Common Wheel, and Lancaster County Restaurant Association?

8,000 hours of community service performed annually by Thaddeus Stevens students

These are just a few of the community groups and organizations that use Thaddeus Stevens College facilities at no cost or low cost. The multipurpose activity center (MAC) is the most often requested facility, but other groups make use of classrooms,
the track, Mellor Auditorium, Women’s Center, Jones Conference Room, Hands Woods, and even the front lawn.

Here are some examples of community groups meeting at Thaddeus Stevens College:

  •  Crispus Attucks holds its Men Who Cook/ Celebrating the Spirit of Juneteenth event in the MAC. The event combines food, fun, music and historical reenactors. It has been held at the MAC for a decade. Last year’s event had 30 cooks and 300 diners. Cheryl Holland Jones, executive director, says her organizers love the air-conditioned space. Although it’s a fundraiser, “We view the event as a way to create community and diversity around food and history,” she says. Crispus Attucks has also held its annual MLK Day Breakfast in the MAC in past years.
  • La Academica charter school holds two events on campus annually, a seniors vs. staff basketball game in late spring and a field day in the football stadium on the last day of school.
  •  Abundant Life Revival Ministry, a Hispanic
    Christianorganization, holds worship services in
    the MAC every Sunday.
  • .918 Club seeks to preserve and share the tradition of American letterpress printing. When the organization lost its home in Building Character, Stevens College stepped in with a long-term, no-cost agreement for .918 to use the former Naval Reserve Building on Parkside Avenue, across the street from Thaddeus
    Stevens on Orange. The College’s architecture
    students helped with early designs and blueprints
    for renovating the building.
  • The College’s front lawn hosted the annual Fete
    en Blanc, an extravagant summer party and
    fundraiser, in 2017.
  • The Jones Dining Hall is a polling place for the
    sixth precinct in the city’s seventh ward.
  • The Girl Scouts have held several events on
    campus, including leadership training and STEM
  • Other organizations to use Thaddeus Stevens
    facilities at no charge include NAACP, Special
    Olympics, AHEDD and Faith Tabernacle.

Opening its doors to the community is part of the College’s long tradition of community service. In fact, Stevens College students perform more than 8,000 hours of community service for nonprofits from Philadelphia to the Pittsburgh area.

Thaddeus Stevens masonry students volunteered in October to help create new gardens and landscaping at La Academia charter school. The students installed a paver patio and prepared beds for shrubs, flowers, and trees. 

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