For Matt Ward, getting his career started and beating the odds meant everything. Not just for him but to all the people who helped him get to where he is right now.
Matt Ward's childhood was nowhere close to simple. He never had a stable foundation and was constantly looking for a place to stay. Until one man turned his life around.
"Well I needed some help and this friend of mine said I got this young boy that's in need to make some money and we could use him," Poultry Farmer, Donald Wilks said.
So Donald Wilks offered him a job on his farm. Matt started working his junior year of high school. And when Wilks became aware of Matt's home life, he offered him a place to stay. Matt lived in a trailer right across from the farm and his life started to turn around.
"I wasn't really expecting all of it and they took me underneath their wing and it was, it was basically, it was life-changing," Lineman, Matt Ward said.
After Matt graduated high school, he looked into several job options but with Wilks' guidance, decided to enroll in the linemen program at Wallace Community College.
"If it wasn't for Mr. Wilks, then I wouldn't have had the money to go into the program. So that kind of made me want to push and push and finish the program and do something and start my career and I have," Ward said.
Matt was in the course for 9 weeks, graduating in 2016. He got a job straight out of college. His instructor, Michael Evans calls Matt a success story.
"The success programs that I see that come out of here, it's really rewarding. It's better than a paycheck I can tell you that. It feels good, it feels really good," Lineworker Instructor at Wallace Community College. Michael Evans said.
The bond between Donald Wilks and Matt Ward is inseparable. And the man he calls Mr. Wilks became more than a boss but a role model.
"If it wasn't for him i wouldn't be in this career, i wouldn't. I mean i could've gotten my CDL on my own but I wouldn't have had the drive and the push from someone behind me," Ward said.
Matt now lives in Panama City with his wife and works for Southern Electric Corporation. Matt still continues to work for Mr. Wilks when he comes home.