Former TRU Colors employee hopes to build path to success for coworkers

Former TRU Colors employee hopes to build path to success for coworkers
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 4:51 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Former TRU Colors employees are looking for jobs after the brewing company shut down for good last week. Part of the company’s workforce included rival gang members with a mission to stop community violence.

Now, former employees, local organizations, and Cape Fear Community College are working to help those former employees find job opportunities in and around Wilmington.

Khalilah Olokunola, TRU Colors’ former Chief People Officer, is still working in the TRU Colors building to make sure former employees are set on a straight path. She says she bought into the company’s mission from day one.

“The American dream I wanted wasn’t about the picket fence or just the tall, dark, and fine husband,” said Olokunola. “It was about making an impact in the lives of others, and so when I saw that TRU Colors, you know, the mission was to create an impact in lives of others, I wanted to jump all in and be a part of this process.”

Olokunola was devastated when she heard the company was shutting down last week, but knew she had to do something to help the nearly 50 people left without a job.

“It was at that moment where I realized that we had to have a safe place for everybody to land,” she said. “And so I decided to take the initiative, and take on the role to make sure that I provide opportunity and connections that may be valuable.”

Part of that path includes working with Cape Fear Community College. President Jim Morton says the school has offered to help former TRU Colors staff members work on their resumes and get ready for the next step.

“We are excited about the response we’ve received so far,” Morton said. “You never know going into a situation like that, how they are going to respond and they have by having the initial interest and working on their resumes, but also interest in signing up for programs.”

CFCC staff worked with TRU Colors employees last week on resume and interview skills, and representatives from the Mount Calvary Center for Leadership Development and the Cape Fear Workforce Board met with former employees this week to discuss financial aid options for job training.

“We really like to get involved and help with those employees who have been displaced to get training, to get some skills so they can be rehired,” Morton said.

Olokunola says she is proud of what TRU Colors did for the community, but says it is time for others to help carry on the company’s mission.

“TRU Colors was one part of the ecosystem,” said Olokunola. “It takes a village to make a difference. We’re just a small part of the village, but who else is in the village? Who else is going to step up? Who else is going to take the initiative to help Wilmington continue to grow?”

CFCC asks employers or anyone else interested in assisting with its effort to help TRU Colors employees to contact Workforce Training Coordinator Erin Easton at 910-362-7883 or eeaston@cfcc.edu.