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Amid heightened concern, squeegee workers connect with workforce developer

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Posted at 6:40 PM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 18:41:00-04

BALTIMORE — Last week's deadly encounter involving a squeegee worker is still buzzing through Baltimore.

Still, squeegeeing persists in the heart of downtown Baltimore.

Drivers shared that while last week’s shooting is concerning, they aren’t just writing squeegee workers off.

“As long as they don’t get in trouble, you know, they’re doing nothing harmless," a Baltimore driver said. "They’re out here doing something to get some money."

RELATED: Baltimore Councilman calls for compassion for squeegee workers

Squeegee action plan underway

That's the feedback squeegee worker James has been getting all Wednesday afternoon washing window after window.

“We’re not trying to hurt nobody," James said. "That’s what I want them to know. We’re not trying to hurt nobody. We’re just trying to make an honest dollar and stay out the way."

James said the shooting has him on edge but it's a way of life he's grown to know.

MORE: Event held to lead Baltimore's youth, squeegee workers to career path

“I’m trying to show and prove to everybody that money doesn’t grow on trees and everything is not going to get handed to you at once," James said. "You’ve got to work for it."

While there's a heightened sense of urgency to get squeegee workers off the street, the hype hasn't come with a list of financial alternatives for the young men, including James.

MORE: Man shot and killed after altercation with squeegee workers near Inner Harbor

WMAR-2 News asked James: “Would you take an opportunity if it was literally handed to you, to train and get a job that will pay you a lot better?"

“Of course,” he responded.

MORE: Man describes squeegee worker attack hours before deadly Harbor shooting

WMAR-2 News asked James if anyone had ever reached out to help him.

“They started, then they always be like, ‘hold on, I’ll come back around and get your information' and they never come back around. So they leave me hanging,” James said.

“To see these types of situations, it really hurts,” said Maurice Good, Program Director at Maryland New Directions.

Maryland New Directions is designed to create career paths for those in the commercial transportation industry.

“We train you to get forklift certified and then after you get forklift certified, we help you get a job where you’re making $15 dollars or more an hour,” Good told James.

James expressed some interest in the training after the opportunity was extended to him.

It’s a path that could take him and his friends from wiping down cars and trucks to potentially driving them

“Anything is possible. You just got to put your mind to it,” James said.

Maurice Good, the Director of Maryland New Directions sat down with TJ Smith in our '2BMore podcast' where he went more in depth about his programs and their goal to extend workforce development opportunities to more Marylanders.

2Bmore Podcast Hosted by T.J. Smith

You can go check out more of their conversation by visiting wmar2news.com/podcasts.