Inspiring the Valley: How welding is changing the lives of Fresno County’s youth

News

There is something about the way Greg Barrgan teaches welding.

“Once I learned how to weld, then I was able to do other things,” he explains. “Once I got a job doing it, then that is where my life changed as far as being employed.”

Barragan knows that having a job can change a life, that’s why he teaches welding to young men and women locked up at the juvenile justice campus (JJC).

“I just wanted to come here and teach kids how to weld because I always knew what it had done for me, and I know that as far as teaching someone a trade, I know what it can do for them and what having a good job can do for them,” he says.

Barragan has been teaching at JJC for almost six years, he knows these kids, knows why they get in trouble, he says he was once just like them.

“I might have been a little worse than some of these kids, I was kind of mean and just a bad kid,” he says. He changed and he believes the young people can change, too.

“I don’t want to come back in here, I want to move on with my life and do positive things,” says Julian, a student.

Barragan says many ended up at JJC trying to make money illegally. He’s showing them another way.

“This could be my life changer as long as I put the effort in and want to do it,” he explains.

Barragan has a wall in his shop where letters are posted. “Thank yous” from the young people he has helped find jobs, whose lives he’s remolded, just like the metal he cuts and reshapes into something grand.

This is his purpose, why he is here.

“It is the kids that keep me coming back and looking forward to coming here everyday. It is knowing that I’m changing their lives and the trade is changing their lives,” Barragan says. “And it’s the burning desire that God has put in my heart to be here.”

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