For many job seekers with a criminal background and devastating personal losses, getting a fresh start on life isn’t easy. While serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence, Ernesto’s oldest son lost his battle with cancer. After Ernesto was released from prison in 2014, his career options were limited.
He wanted to turn his life around to honor the memory of his son, but he wasn’t quite sure how to do so. Ernesto had moved to Charlotte from New York a few years prior to his conviction, and had only managed to find part-time work during that time. While in rehabilitation after his release, Ernesto’s counselor told him that Goodwill was a resource for those with barriers to employment.
Ernesto came to Goodwill and was immediately welcomed by a team of people ready and willing to help him get back on his feet. A team member in the Job Connection at Goodwill met with Ernesto, learned about his skills and interests, and then referred him to Goodwill’s free six-week construction skills training program.
Through the program, Ernesto received his forklift and OSHA-10 certifications, and learned skills related to construction, computers, communicating, interviewing, employability and much more, all while being surrounded by a strong support group. Most importantly, Ernesto got the chance at a new start he had been looking for.
“I saw help at Goodwill, so I reached out and grabbed it,” he said. “Goodwill has been a turning point in my life.”
After graduating from the construction skills training program, Ernesto was hired temporarily through Goodwill’s transitional employment program, in which he worked on several projects with Goodwill Construction Services, a licensed general contractor and division of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont. Here, he was able to take the skills he learned during the construction skills training program and perfect them in a real-world setting.
While working for Goodwill Construction Services, Ernesto took the initiative to expand his knowledge and skills base even more by enrolling in heavy equipment training with the Urban League. The skills and certifications he gained at Goodwill, coupled with the additional training he’ll learn at the Urban League, will benefit Ernesto as he continues on his path to achieving family sustaining employment.
For the first time in a long time, Ernesto feels as though he has the support, confidence and motivation to succeed and inspire others.
“You have to motivate and apply yourself. You have to focus. I tell people you can have plenty of help, you just have to go for it,” he said. “I told my 23-year-old classmate that he needs to apply himself now so that when he gets to be my age, he can have the good life he wants.”
Ernesto’s hard work and determination, along with the help of Goodwill, have opened up an entire future of possibility for him. Ernesto can finally envision the life he’s always wanted.
“I’ve been looking at the Goodwill Construction Services project manager and thinking I could do that job. Or even the estimator, I could do that too,” he said. “I don’t want to stay in the same place, I want to move up.”
Most importantly, Ernesto’s new life has helped him regain his self-worth and honor the memory of his son.
“I’m sure my son is looking down on me today, and I know he would be very happy with how far I’ve come.”