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From Left: Donte Davis, Michael Kapers, Warren Brown, Michael Richards, Michelle Grisgsey, Cherelle Vance at Access For All
From Left: Donte Davis, Michael Kapers, Warren Brown, Michael Richards, Michelle Grisgsey, Cherelle Vance at Access For All

When you’re 110 years old, you might need some maintenance too. At the historic Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, students from the “Access for All” apprenticeship training program have been building walls, assisting in installing windows, and helping with other aspects of restoration and getting job training at the same time.

The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant Museum is the birthplace of the groundbreaking machine known as the Model T and is the first manufacturing facility built by Ford Motor Company. Located at 461 Piquette Avenue in Detroit, it opened in 1904, just one year after the company’s founding.

If you didn’t know, Piquette is now a museum open to the public, and it’s one of those hidden gems of Detroit.

Michaels Richards, Warren Brown installing windows

Michaels Richards, Warren Brown installing windows

“These students really learned the old adage, ‘measure twice, cut once’, as there is not one square corner in this old building. Every piece of lumber had to be fitted for each opening. The fact that they used some salvaged materials from the building added to the challenge,” said Access for All Supervisor Quintarus Jenkins.

What is “Access for All?” It is an initiative to assist Detroit residents interested in careers in the construction industry. The apprenticeship readiness training program provides qualified residents with skill sets needed to gain entry into apprenticeship programs offered by construction-industry trade unions.

“As we watch all the work going on here at the Piquette plant we’re reminded of the Ford trade schools that Henry Ford established,” said Nancy Darga, the Piquette’s executive director. “I think Henry Ford would be pleased that one of his factories is once again helping young people learn how to build, create and innovate. The Piquette Plant provided job opportunities to a previous generation of workers and it seems appropriate that this museum should provide a work experience opportunity for students training to become part of a new generation of skilled trades workers.”

Shanna Cotterell, Michell Vargas

Shanna Cotterell, Michell Vargas measuring at Piquette

It is a program that is privately funded by a grant from the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund (DRWF). The DRWF is operated by the United Way for Southeastern Michigan and includes both public and private investors.

“The DRWF is addressing a growing gap between the skills workers in Michigan currently have and those they’ll need to fill the thousands of jobs with family-sustaining wages that are becoming available as a result of our state’s changing economy,” said DRWF Director Karen Tyler-Ruiz.

Both Access for All and the Piquette Museum hope to continue their job training in the future.