By Angela Davis, WCCO-TV

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Wednesday evening, hundreds of people will come together to recognize the achievements of the Minneapolis Urban League at the 2011 Gateway To Opportunity Gala.

The agency opened here back in 1926 and is still going strong.

One person who exemplifies what the Urban League is doing to help turn lives around is Dameon Jones. As a construction worker, he knows how to fix things up, but he credits the Urban League with helping to fix him up.

Recently, the single father was homeless and starting to feel hopeless. Jones found what he needed at the league’s offices on Plymouth Avenue North.

“They made a way for me. They showed me love. The love they showed me gave me strength. The love I gave them back, gave me courage,” said Jones.

He enrolled in health and wellness classes, and also learned about personal finance, parenting, and job preparedness.

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“This new gateway vision we have is transforming from a social service mindset to an economic empowerment mindset,” said Minneapolis Urban League president Scott Gray. “We want to make sure that the people who are coming through our doors are getting the type of skills to be independent.”

Even though he had experience remodeling houses, Jones still wasn’t earning a lot of money. It was an Urban League program that introduced Jones to the Carpenters Union and the training it offers.

Now he is working in commercial construction and making much more money in a union job.

“His work out here has been excellent. He’s been an asset to our team overall,” said project manager Jason Rahn.

Jones said the experience means “growth, for me and my child. Trying to start my own business with the knowledge they give me through classes, through the union. … It’s just excellent.”

The Minneapolis Urban League event is being held in two locations. The program is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis.

The keynote speaker is CNN political analyst Roland Martin. A reception follows at the Hilton Hotel.

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Tickets are $100 per person.