Sunday, March 27, 2011

Work--Part 3

This post is the final in a 3-part series on work and CitySquare's efforts to provide hard skills, construction training for participants.  The stories are encouraging and are presented here in "raw" case notes.

Cleto Villafana - Cleto was born in Mexico and came to Dallas, Texas when he was 15. He struggled initially with poor English skills but he wasn’t going to let anything as “minor as language” get in his way of achieving the success he sought. Cleto will be quick to tell you one of the reasons he has been able to do the things he has done is because of the support of his girlfriend (who became his wife), they met soon after he came to Dallas. With her help, he greatly improved his English and even though he did not graduate from high school, he did not stop learning. Cleto has his permanent resident card, a social security card and his driver’s license and hopes to eventually become a U. S. Citizen. He lost no time finding work when he married his girlfriend so he could support his “new” family. Things were going well until the economy slowed to a crawl and Cleto was laid off from his job and had been unable to find work. Cleto attended an orientation for Build4Success, thinking he probably didn’t have what it would take to get into the program because he lacked confidence in his ability to read and write English. He was very nervous about the TABE test but the WorkPaths staff, along with his wife, encouraged him to not let the test stop him, so Cleto gathered his courage and took the test. To his surprise he did well on the TABE test; he didn’t lack knowledge, he lacked the confidence in himself. He scored well and was selected to be a part of the program. Completing the coursework was not as easy for Cleto as for those whose native language is English but he worked hard, he’s smart and he was determined. After graduation, Cleto told the WorkPaths staff he was interested in working for a mechanical contractor. One of WorkPaths’ employer partners was interested in hiring Cleto but one of their requirements was new hires had to have a high school diploma or GED, he did not have either of these. During the B4S training, he told the WorkPaths Director he would like to enroll in GED classes and this information was transmitted to the employer. Due in large part to his strong performance during training, his dogged determination, and the recommendation from WorkPaths, the contractor agreed to hire him with the condition he get his GED after he was hired. WorkPaths arranged for him to start GED classes at CEF within a few weeks after graduation and on his own, Cleto also enrolled in ESL classes. He completed his GED with a score of 98 and the contractor is very pleased with him. Some people will allow perceived obstacles to stand in their way of achieving their goals while others will find a way to overcome challenges and succeed. Cleto is proof if you really want to do something and are willing to do what it takes to achieve your goal, you can accomplish it. “Can’t” is an English word he has chosen not to use.

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