JVS janitorial program trainee Vernard McGouch with trainer Charles Roberts.
JVS janitorial program trainee Vernard McGouch with trainer Charles Roberts. (JVS)

During the course, which runs five days a week and is paid at minimum wage, participants learn all the technical and interpersonal skills to help them interact appropriately with people as janitors.

A paid janitorial training program for Metro Detroiters with disabilities and other barriers to employment, operated by JVS Human Services, continues to provide local businesses with specialized cleaning skills essential during the pandemic.

At the same time, lives of participants in the eight-week program have been changed forever, with graduates gaining the ability to work part-time or full time in a variety of facilities once the course is completed, ranging from hospitals and retail outlets to sports arenas, offices, apartment buildings and government buildings. 

To qualify for the program, participants need to have an open case with Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) or the Veterans Administration (VA) to be referred for training from these organizations. 

“The feedback we get from businesses is how much they appreciate the expertise our trainees have in commercial cleaning, which remains vital for everyone’s health and safety,” said Danita Love-Carter, manager for Rehabilitation Services at JVS Human Services. 

During the course, which runs five days a week and is paid at minimum wage, participants learn all the technical and interpersonal skills to help them interact appropriately with people as janitors. 

Typically, starting wages for janitorial jobs are $10-$15/hour, and while most of the jobs are part-time and do not include benefits, many participants will retain their disability benefits; and workers employed in hospitals are often full time and have benefits.

Ken Alexander, 52, of Detroit, credits the janitorial training program with turning his life around. After battling a substance abuse problem, he was “at rock bottom” and needing to start over. “The program helped me do a 360-degree turnaround,” he says. “I was learning, and they were willing to take a chance on me. If I made a mistake, no one judged me. It was just so supportive.” 

That was in 2007 and, since then, Alexander has had promotions, becoming a crew leader, and recently earned the title of supervisor, Environmental Services at JVS Human Services. His work has also enabled him to look after his family, including being able to put his daughter through school.

Broder & Sasche Real Estate uses the service. “The JVS Janitorial Services team has been a tremendous asset to our property management team,” said Sarah Turton, property manager. 

For information about the training or hiring the service, contact Danita Love-Carter at dlove@jvshumanservices.org. 

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