The Inspirational “Friendship Wall” at Cleveland Job Corps Center

By Wally Espada,
Cleveland Job Corps Center

Your mind believes what you tell it, so always tell it positive things.

This thought inspired the Friendship Wall in one of our dormitories at Cleveland Job Corps Center back when COVID-19 showed up.

Most students went back home and connected to the program virtually, while 16 students remained at the Center with no idea at the time that they would be there for over a year and a half without ever leaving.

Staff had to find a way of helping our students maintain a “sound mind and a positive attitude” as we were about to cross over an uncharted path through the onset of this COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020.

That is when I, Ms. Wally Espada, a Residential Counselor at the time, envisioned a “chalkboard” where our students and staff could express “shout-outs” to everyone who was trying to do things right.

To stay positive amidst the unknown outcome of this lurking menace named COVID-19 was not easy. We were tasked with trying to keep going; to hold on; to let go of all the fears within, and to find a happy place within our Center that would help our students flow with the circumstances that changed life as we knew it prior to COVID-19.

We were trying to stay afloat, to meet each new day and each new challenge, stay safe and healthy, and keep balanced as we learned new ways to do things.

Seeing our students struggle, Residential Counselor, Ms. Janelle Saldana, embraced the vision and helped us bring our wall to fruition.

We were in this together for the long run. Writing on this wall became our daily inspiration.

Your mind believes what you tell it, so always tell it positive things.

Fast forward to when we were able to open our Center again, and all other students returned. They were received with a welcoming Friendship Wall that became a reminder:  “never forget how far we have come.” A reminder of all the times we pushed on, even when we felt we couldn’t, with so many CDC restrictions: wearing masks, social distancing, sanitizing, no fraternizing, and no leaving the Center.

The wall, which is completely covered with positive affirmations, is a constant reminder of our struggles, and how we overcame them.

Today, as we are getting ready to receive yet more students at the Center, we pass the torch to Ms. Veronica Brazil, another residential counselor, who has graciously accepted the challenge, by popular demand of our students, to replicate our Friendship Wall in another dormitory.

All 16 students who created our Friendship Wall have since graduated and moved on to independent living outside of our Center. They pioneered this project and SUCCEEDED.

Today, the Cleveland Job Corps Center is on the move and accepting applications for enrollment.

If you are looking for a better quality of life and willing to dedicate yourself to our life-changing program, Cleveland Job Corps is the place for you!

Careers begin here.

“Your only limit is your mind” … out of the mouths of our youth!