MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The need for truck and bus drivers sparked a local organization to recruit community members to change their lives by getting their commercial driver’s license.

We Push For Peace is offering free CDL training. The hope is that people gravitate towards a job that offers stability over street violence.

Marcus Hollie, his wife, Cherry, and mother, Sandra, are taking advantage of an opportunity they know will change their lives.

“We want to try and get some independence and try and give people in our community to come work for us and with us and have a sense of family,” Hollie said.

Once the Hollies finish their training to be truck drivers, they plan to open up their own trucking company with hopes of helping others along the way.

“They want to pay it forward by hiring some of the young men and women that are coming through the program…that truly does exemplify what this program is started for,” said Trehern Pollard, the founder of We Push for Peace.

Pollard is replacing the lure of fast money and street life with an opportunity at a better life.

“Commercial driver’s license is the most felony-friendly profession that will allow you to have livable wages on the planet,” Pollard said.

Trainers Leisa Jackson and Constance Ray have been working for weeks, getting this family ready for trucking school.

“Just being able to provide opportunities and advancements in people’s lives, it’s special to me,” Ray said.

Both know this training is life-saving for many of the men and women they encounter.

“This program helps them get to the next level,” Jackson said. “Instead of doors closing in their face, these doors are open for opportunity so they can get on that path and lead a straight life and not have to get off to the side and sell drugs and do this to end up back in prison.”

Pollard says We Push for Peace has four recent graduates of the free CDL training, all now have jobs. A list of 80 others are wanting the same opportunity.

The free training is possible because of a grant from the Office of Violence Prevention.

Reg Chapman