After a stretch during which he was “gone from pretty much June 2001 to September of last year,” all George Dittmar was looking for was an opportunity.
Thanks to Metropolitan Community College-Business & Technology and a local risk reduction center, the Kansas City resident got a second chance in the form of the Commercial Driver’s License-B program through the Institute for Workforce Innovation (IWI).
“I got involved in drugs, and that really sidetracked my life,” said Dittmar, 44. “I’ve only had 16 months on the streets since 2001, and it’s easy for people to look past us because you just see somebody who was involved in drugs. But I finally got the treatment I needed, for a year, through prison.
“I saw how it was affecting my life, and I just needed a chance, somebody to believe in me.”
That somebody was Brittany Peterson, a senior resource and offender workforce development specialist at Second Chance Risk Reduction Center in Kansas City.
Peterson helped Dittmar secure a job with Embassy Landscape Group in Riverside.
“The nature of our work is to help realize new opportunities moving forward so that they can actualize a second chance,” Peterson said. “George is one of many examples of individuals who have thrived with that second chance.”
After several months of work at Embassy, Dittmar recognized another opportunity in pursuing a CDL-B through MCC-Business & Technology.
“We run more than 80 trucks at Embassy, and with more than 10 of those trucks you need a CDL-B,” he said. “Out of all the employees at Embassy, I’d say there’s probably three people who have their CDL-A or CDL-B, so I wanted to learn to drive the trucks.
“I’m extremely grateful to Brittany Peterson and Second Chance for helping me with the funding to go through this program. I think this will help me make a little more money and take me to the next level at work.”
Dittmar is the first student training in a CDL-B session at IWI that began Feb. 20. In addition to providing Dittmar with instructors who have 25 or more years of experience, IWI staff rented a specialized truck for him to train in.
“George wanted to learn on a manual transmission, and we made that happen,” said John Price, transportation and logistics program manager at IWI. “It’s important for us to provide our students with the learning experience they want and need to be successful.”
Dittmar plans to continue working at Embassy after completing the CDL-B program.
“Serving communities and providing opportunities is at the core of our mission at MCC,” said Dr. Jackie Gill, president of the MCC-Business & Technology campus. “George’s story is an example of both. Not only are we providing an opportunity for him, but we’re also serving the community by working with organizations such as Second Chance.”
MORE ABOUT THE CDL PROGRAM
GOLD COLLAR JOBS
MCC-Business & Technology teaches and trains students for dozens of Gold Collar Jobs, which pay $30,000 to $80,000 per year and are in-demand locally. You can learn more about these jobs, including in truck driving, by attending our Gold Collar Exploration Night. The next event is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 20 in Campus Center 248/249 on our campus (1775 Universal Ave., Kansas City, Missouri 64120). Visit our website to learn more about Gold Collar Jobs and register for our next event.