ELDERSBURG -- Judy Young is a confident, self-assured young woman of 27 with soft blond hair, friendly blue eyes and ready smile.
She's also a single mother of 7-year-old twin sons, and a bank teller at Farmers and Merchants Bank in Hampstead.
Two years ago, Ms. Young was a struggling young mother whose relationship had gone sour and who had no place to live. But with the help of Human Services Programs and the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA), the native West Virginian is putting her life back together.
In ceremonies Wednesday at Liberty High School, Ms. Young was one of 12 JTPA participants from Carroll and Howard counties honored for hard work, perseverance and success in overcoming a variety of hardships to improve their lives.
The Mid-Maryland Private Industry Council (PIC) presented certificates of achievement and gift certificates to participants in six JTPA programs from Carroll and Howard counties. PIC also honored a provider and business from each county for its participation.
"The entire month of August is a celebration nationally of JTPA, and last week Carroll and Howard each had a celebration," said Diane Massey, Carroll's JTPA program administrator.
"Today we're coming together to recognize those people who have been successful in the program."
JTPA offers job training and employment services through six programs to clients who have lost their job, are handicapped, displaced or economically disadvantaged. Specifically tailored services for each program are available to youth, seniors and others in need.
Ms. Young, for instance, was part of Project Independence, operated in cooperation with the Department of Social Services to help individuals become self-sufficient through employment.
"I'm on my own, I'm not on any public assistance except for somechild-care help," Ms. Young said. "JTPA helped me with training, getting a job, they helped me get child care. If I had to talk to my lawyer, they went with me. I knew I had a friend at JTPA."
That's part of JTPA's stated function -- to provide the necessary services, beyond training, that a client needs to get a job.
"You can't just be trained," Ms. Massey noted. "You can't get a job if you don't have transportation, job interview skills, child care and all the other things."
JTPA is funded through local, state and federal money, in cooperation with local businesses that provide jobs.
"JTPA steered us in the right direction fast when we were looking for new people," said Ross Burbage, branch manager at F&M Bank. "Judy Young did very well at her first six-month evaluation and already got a raise."
Commissioner President Donald I. Dell said he couldn't put an economic price tag on the work JTPA does for the county, but "it means a lot morally to people out of work and looking for jobs," he said. "It's a definite asset."
Other Carroll countians honored at the awards ceremony:
* Bonnie Taylor, who went through the Title IIA program to help those on limited incomes. Unsure about what she wanted to do except work with children, she volunteered with Head Start, then took classes to earn certification as a child-development associate.
* Evelyn Walker, who turned to the Title III program for people affected by layoffs or plant closings after her employer went out of business. She earned her GED diploma and an associate degree in human services, and now works for Human Services as a case aide.
* Geraldine Lang, the first client served under the JTPA and Bureau of Aging partnership. After losing her job due to economic conditions, she enrolled in computer classes at Carroll Community College and is actively seeking employment.
* Natalie Chase, a Westminster High School senior who joined the Summer Youth Employment and Training Program three years ago. She has grown in maturity and responsibility as an aide in an elementary school office, the organization said.
* Lura Jacobs, a South Carroll High School senior, who said she was chosen to be a model for Maryland's Tomorrow, a program aimed at identifying students who are at risk of dropping out of school and intervening in a positive way. She is employed by S. Harmon Associates.
Carroll Community College was recognized for its adult training programs and partnership with the Carroll County Public jTC Schools' Career and Technology Center.
Carroll County General Hospital was given an award for its employment training and staff development programs.