Meet Darius


Workforce Challenge 

Darius Tarbrizi was discharged from the U.S. Navy for alcohol abuse in 2003, just a few months shy of completing his enlistment with an honorable discharge. 

Workforce Solution

His substance abuse intensified when he returned home to Baltimore, and he spent much of the time between 2004 and 2010 homeless, roaming the streets and living in shelters. He tried several in and out‐patient treatment programs during that time, but nothing stuck. “I wasn’t ready,” Darius said. “I still had ideas in my head that stopped me from adopting the ideas that work.” But finally, on February 24, 2010, he got sober. “I was desperate,” he explained. “I was tired of living the lifestyle I was living. I was tired of hurting everyone – directly or indirectly – and of hurting myself the most. I was finally ready to become the person I was meant to be.” He added, “I can’t be too proud. This is nothing I did on my own. I had a lot of help and support.”

Organizations that Darius credits with helping him make the changes he’s made include American Rescue Workers, Back On My Feet, the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training, and a 12‐step treatment program. Another critical resource for him was the Job Opportunities Task Force JumpStart program, a construction pre‐apprenticeship training initiative, which he connected with through the Eastside One‐Stop Career Center on Madison Street. JOTF received support for JumpStart through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)‐funded grant from the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED). Through ARRA, MOED provided more than 300 training opportunities in a variety of industries for unemployed and/or underemployed adults and dislocated workers in Baltimore in 2009 and 2010. While taking part in JOTF’s JumpStart program, Darius was able to study the basics of four construction trades – carpentry, plumbing, HVAC, and electrical. It was the electrical work that resonated with him the most. He said, “It challenges me mentally and physically and it’s interesting. It’s definitely a job I can spend the rest of my life doing.”

Outcomes & Benefits

Darius is currently in his first year of a four‐year apprenticeship program through Associated Builders and Contractors. After completing 8,000 hours of on‐the‐job training and passing an exam, he will be certified as a journeyman electrician. His goal is to one day become a foreman. Through JumpStart, Darius was hired by Hirsch Electric in Southeast Baltimore as a helper in November 2010.  Today, not only is Darius clean, holding down a job at Hirsch and working toward his journeyman certification, he also has an apartment and a truck, and is saving up to buy a house. Darius credits his work with Hirsch Electric as a critical factor in his turnaround. “Having steady employment has been key,” he said. “I would not be where I am today if I didn’t have a job.”

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