OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A program to pull people out of gangs in Oakland worked so well, people in Union City asked for help.
John Lahip never thought he would be running a fork lift, finishing an honest day’s work at Southland Industries in Union City.
“I liked to fight,” Lahip said.
Back in high school, Lahip says it was a rush, until one day when, “My sophomore year, my mom had to pull me out of school because I was jumped in front of her, and my mom got hit, and my brother got hit.”
Another fight got him kicked off a job.
Lahip says he wanted to change, and he was in luck.
The apprenticeship program at Oakland’s Cypress Mandela Training Center had just expanded to work with eight Union City gang members who wanted to turn their lives around.
“They wanted to change, but they didn’t know how, so we provided them with the tools to learn how to change,” said Director of Training Sylvester Hodges.
They have a 90% success rate.
Lahip enrolled but three weeks later, his old life caught up with him.
“I got pulled over and I had a gun, and they found it. I was in jail for two days before my mom bailed me out,” Lahip said.
It was a setback, but the program took him in and in December, John started working at Southland.
“I asked him in the interview if he had any construction experience and he said ‘No, but I’m a hard worker,’” construction manager Mark Williams said.
Lahip’s goal now is to one day take his boss’ job. Beyond that, “I want to be somebody who is an inspiration to somebody,” Lahip said.