Bridging the gap: New educational program partners NW Works with LFCC

Shannon Saville, 35, of Berryville, makes Lactaid boxes for Costco and Sam's Club at the NW Works facility in Winchester on Friday. Saville is one of several participants enrolled in a new seven-week manufacturing technology program. Rich Cooley/Daily

WINCHESTER – NW Works and Lord Fairfax Community College have entered into a partnership that brings two levels of the school’s manufacturing certificate program to job seekers.

The new seven-week educational program began Friday with five people officially enrolling, being assessed for what they want to do and learning what to expect of the program. The first class of the program begins on Friday with an instructor from Lord Fairfax Community College Workforce Solutions.

On successful completion, students will have a manufacturing technology 1 certificate.  If they continue with classes, they could receive a certification for manufacturing technology specialist.

The program is open to anyone.

Creating an opportunity to help someone better their life is one of the reasons Marshall Henson, president and CEO of NW Works, wanted to bring the community college into the NW Works facility.

Nichole Tichy, left, director of development at NW Works in Winchester, looks over the shoulder of Jeff Fernow as he takes an assessment test inside the facility on Friday. Fernow is one of several clients in a manufacturing technology program. Rich Cooley/Daily

Henson knows there are people in Winchester who do not have a vehicle and there is no bus line from Winchester to Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown, limiting the potential to further education. Buses, however, pull up every day to the doors of NW Works.

He also knows businesses are having a difficult time hiring staff to meet their needs.

Training is what NW Works does, mostly with individuals with disabilities or low job skills who need to develop their resume.

“We want to get people ready not just for a job but a career. You get into entry manufacturing, you do a good job and you advance in your career, into higher pay and benefits,” Henson said. “There is industry here. The jobs are here. It is bridging the gap between business and people.”

One of the new students is Jeff Fearnow, 35, of Berryville, who said he is grateful for the job he has with NW Works and the opportunity he now has to learn more skills that could result in a higher paying job.

“I am hoping for better opportunities, a better lifestyle,” Fearnow said.

Fearnow’s dream is what many consider to be the American dream – to be able to afford a home to call his own.

The partnership began to take shape when Henson went to Nichole Tichy, NW Works Director of Development and Outreach and assigned the project to her.

“He said, ‘Bring Lord Fairfax here’,” Tichy said.

And she did.

The students followed.

Winchester resident Shannon Saville, 35, is a student and Army veteran whose VA adviser told him about the new program.

“I would like to have better skills and more experience so I can have more opportunity,” he said.

Saville said he is a person who likes to work with his hands.

He wants an opportunity that is more than a job; he would like something he could make a career of, he said.

To learn more about the program, contact Noah Zeigler, NW Works Workforce Development Coordinator at 540-313-9430.