Student Success Stories: George Murray at Abram Friedman Occupational Center

Abram Friedman Occupational Center (AFOC) student George Murray in his own words:

“I came to AFOC back in 2008. I left before completing the barber program but returned in 2017. I was homeless but determined to complete this course and pull myself out of the homeless situation I found myself.

The AFOC Staff have been so very, very supportive that on a few occasions I found speaking difficult because of the emotions that became stuck in the back of my throat. I think you know what I mean. I’m a 63 year old man who’s not afraid to shed tears in public. It’s a rare event but I’m not ashamed when and if it occurs.

My teacher, Mr. Ron Koziel is a born teacher. I’ve never seen him not prepared to jump in and answer a question or aid in providing a haircut, shave, perm/color job. Whatever is needed in the way of instruction, he’s there. He is incredible and I count him as a really good friend.

The staff on the fourth floor who are responsible for my enrollment, are absolutely the best. Let me just say that’s where most of my back of the throat choke hold happens. My eyes would well up with moisture; in what my grandmother used call a condition where, “having your bladder too close to your eyes causes them to leak.”

I have, since my enrollment, left homelessness behind and live in an apartment provided for me by the City of Glendale. All through this journey I have met the finest human beings in the city. I have also met those who judged or ignored me when I asked them a question. That stung being treated like a sub-human. But I learned to just move on. People don’t realize that many of them are only a paycheck away from being homeless themselves.

I never once felt judged or felt less than here at AFOC. My self-esteem and self-confidence have returned in abundance and my attitude has mellowed markedly as a result of way I’ve been treated here in school. I’ve lived and learned a lot about humility since my adventure began. I’ve always had difficulty accepting gifts and/or compliments, etc., unexpectedly from people. Pride will do that you know.

I will be forever thankful to all of you Abram Friedman staff for encouraging me and seeing something in me that I had forgotten existed.

If AFOC staff know of a school that needs a spokesman to speak to ‘at-risk students’, please remember that I’m always available to serve in that capacity. I’ve done it many times since my first time in 1984 at Glendale High School speaking to their ‘at-risk’ student body.”

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