Non-Profit to Help People Out of Trouble Tries to Stay Alive After Funding is Cut

Franque Thompson

OMAHA (KPTM)- A non-profit designed to help troubled people get off the street is facing challenges of its own. The North Omaha Contractors Alliance is an organization that's seen its share of names over the past 25 years. But NOCA has always had the same mission--helping people of North Omaha get out of trouble and learn skills to better their future.

"A lot of crime comes from people that don't have anything to do. This is giving them a chance to get off the street, feel proud about they self," said NOCA worker Damon McKell.

"If we could get these many people in this little neighborhood busy, that'd help reduce crime. Because most of these folks are high school dropouts, ex felons, single baby mama's and so forth. These are the people where idle mind is the devil workshop," said NOCA president, Houston McKell III.

Houston McKell said it was federal dollars that kept the organization up and running. But without any warning, he said the money stopped coming. Leaving 259 NOCA workers confused out of a job.

"When you get these guys and girls in here and they actually feel like they learning somethingworking with they hands, they actually going home proud of they self, the rug get pulled from right under our feet," he said.

The funding would pay for NOCA workers to take construction classes and become certified. That certification allows them to be on the job and get paid. But since there's no more funding, McKell said he's had to pay his workers out of his own pockets. He said almost every day a number of workers come to the NOCA office asking for work. One can imagine how much of his own money is being put forth to help people stay out of trouble.

"Now with no money, it's like 'here, I'm just turning these people back to the street.' They looking again disappointed and upset," said McKell.

So stacks of construction projects continue to pile up in his office.

"You can go to McDonalds, Burger King, try to do your regular nine to five, but some, they don't even have the skills to do that. They can't even fill out an application," said Damon McKell.

So NOCA workers are all hoping the rest of the city will open their ears hearts and wallets to help them get back to work and off the streets. They're looking for sponsors to help fund construction classes to get certifications. The NOCA office is located at 2505 North 24th Street. Log onto its web site or call at 402-991-3420.