"I'm Actually Doing This" - Cook Inlet Tribal Council
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“I’m Actually Doing This”

At CITC, Justin Forbes found the hands-on training and support he needed to help himself—and others

Justin Forbes received training and support from CITC’s Employment & Training Services, which helped him land a job at Red Dog Mine.

When Justin Forbes talked to a recruitment representative from Red Dog Mine, he decided to be honest. He recounted his past: struggles with alcohol and drugs, time in and out of jail for fighting, and finally 10 months in jail on drug charges.

He also explained that he had just graduated from training as a heavy duty mechanic, which was made possible through CITC’s Vocational Training Services. He had gotten sober and was, as he put it, trying to “do the next right thing” for his three-year-old daughter.

Hearing Justin’s story, the recruiter offered him a job on the spot.

“Every day I was at Red Dog Mine, I was really thankful to be there,” Justin said.

A Presence for Community Partners

Justin came to CITC at the encouragement of his counselor at Adult and Teen Challenge, a faith-based, residential treatment center for alcohol and drug misuse.

“We have a presence in the community that other organizations really lean on because we can provide resources outside their scope of service,” explained Charlene Miles, the education and training manager for CITC’s Employment and Training Services.

Justin enrolled in heavy duty mechanics training with Northern Industrial Training (NIT), a longtime CITC partner. Thanks to CITC’s Vocational Training Services, along with support from Bristol Bay Native Corporation, the class was fully funded. CITC also helped cover housing while Justin trained at NIT’s Valley location.

“It kind of built my confidence and self-esteem. I would think, I’m actually doing this!” Justin said of the hands-on learning NIT provided. He gained skills in welding, cutting steel, servicing tractor-trailers, and other areas. “It made me interested in learning even more.”

A week after he graduated, Justin was on site at Red Dog Mine, doing seasonal work. In August of 2022, once his job at the mine ended, he landed a position with Meineke Car Care in Anchorage.

Justin, on the job at Red Dog Mine. After his seasonal job came to an end, he found work at Meineke Car Care.

Overcoming Obstacles

In addition to connecting people with training that equips them to pursue their career goals, CITC Employment and Training Services helps job-seekers remove any obstacles that may make getting training or job placement more difficult.

In Justin’s case, that meant registering for selective service. Drea Whiteside-Ferrell, a former ETSD training coordinator, walked him through the process of getting registered, then assisted him with reapplying for training with NIT and establishing additional funding through his Bristol Bay Native Corporation. Justin also received stipends while in training for maintaining good attendance and progress.

“The only thing I really had to do was encourage him to be patient with himself and the process,” Drea recalled. “All of those obstacles are minor compared to the other challenges he’s faced—and overcome—in his life.”

Paying It Forward

Over the past year, between five and ten people have reached out to get CITC’s contact information from him, Justin estimated.

“They see that I was able to train and get work after that, and that I was able to stay sober,” he said.

Justin has stayed sober for over two and a half years. He now sees his daughter every week.

He was able to purchase a truck recently; he hopes to send it to family members in Bristol Bay to replace the one he crashed, while driving drunk, as an 18-year-old.

“That’s one of my goals—to make amends and do the right thing,” he said. “This opportunity I got through CITC helped open doors for me to do good things to help others.”

If you’re inspired by Justin’s story to start opening doors, check out our Employment & Training Services for information on how CITC can help. Ready to get on the road to recovery? Take the first step with our Addiction and Recovery Services.