Joseph Project 863 offers path to jobs for those in need

CLEWISTON — There’s a slew of good reasons why Marlin Vaughn, himself a product of the Harlem area, has been recognized with a “Champions Award.”

Some of them have names — those of people who’ve been given extra bootstraps to clutch at and pull themselves into better lives through something called the Joseph Project 863.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of Joseph Project 863
Students work in the Clewiston Adult School’s welding shop.

Mr. Vaughn started the organization a few years ago to help local high school students pursue jobs in high paying, highly skilled trades, he said, as an article published by U.S. Sugar Corp. reported after he celebrated a grand opening for its new facilities at Harlem Academy.

The article explained: “U.S. Sugar has partnered with Joseph Project 863 to sponsor a scholarship for a student to attend trade school. Other program supporters include Disney World, Walmart and the H.E. Hill Foundation.”

Aug. 15, 2016, was a “great day in the short history of the Joseph Project 863 Inc. It was an honor for us as an organization to write our first scholarships to five worthy residents in our community to attending welding school in Clewiston. It is our goal as an organization to assist our fellow citizens in retooling their careers for the workforce of tomorrow. We count it an honor to serve this great community and we want you to know that this is just the beginning.”

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of Joseph Project 863
Marlin Vaughn (center) talks to attendees during the grand opening of his project’s new facilities at the Harlem Academy.

That’s the promise made in one of the other articles on their website,

How have they fulfilled that pledge?

Just read part of Mr. Vaughn’s biography as it appeared in the program for the Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board’s annual awards ceremony Sept. 6, where he took one of the top 2019 awards:

“Marlin Vaughn, a Clewiston native, grew up in the Harlem rural neighborhood, graduated from Clewiston High School, married his childhood sweetheart, served in the U.S. Navy, and presently works as a power plant operator and turbine generator mechanic for Walt Disney World in Orlando.

“Marlin is the founder of the Joseph Project 863. Established in 2013, the program provides assistance to low-income workers, unemployed individuals, out-of-school youth, and newly graduating high school students. The project manages grants and scholarships to help individuals attend area trade schools. In the surrounding area, students can attend Fort Myers Technical College, Immokalee Technical College, Palm Beach State College, Florida Southwestern State College, and Hendry County Adult School. Marlin has made it a point to visit, interact, and be in regular contact with each of these schools. He has made limitless donations in equipment to each of the technical trades.

“His program is supported by volunteers who offer students after-school tutoring in math, reading, science, and ACT test preparation. He takes a special interest in the volunteers and has also offered them scholarships.”

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