Youth Testimonies

Autumn’s education had been disrupted by her parents break up, which often led the family to uproot and move from one residence to another.

In her senior year in high school, she moved to Texas for seven months, where she learned she did not have enough credits to graduate.

On her return to California, a school counselor informed her of the support she could receive from the Workforce Development Board.

She enrolled at an alternative education center to study towards graduation, and also attended classes to learn essential life skills.

“The skills I learned taught me the importance of my attitude in school and at work, and how that affects my ability to be successful in life. The schedule was flexible, which made it easy for me to follow the program,” said Autumn.

Autumn was also provided with work attire for interviews and transportation assistance. She graduated from high school in December 2014, and by this time, had already caught the bug for further education.
She enrolled at Chaffey College, where she earned the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certification and an OSHA10 card in order to conduct industrial maintenance.
Autumn then returned to the college in September to start a two-year associate’s degree in Airframe and Powerplant Technology. Autumn also gained an internship at DuBois Aviation where she shadowed a mechanic to learn how to repair airplanes.

She commented, “I love the program and the staff. They pushed me to do my best, stay committed to my goals, and helped me to follow my dreams of being an aircraft mechanic. The staff members of the program are wonderful people who really care about you; they have a special place in my heart.”

Autumn Downs

Mariah dropped out of high school and was unemployed with no work experience, which left her struggling to support herself and her four-year-old son.

At 21, she thought she was too old to try to complete her high school diploma, and despite applying for a plethora of jobs, she was unable to find employment.

“My living situation was unstable and emotionally unhealthy for me and my son; I wanted more out of life for the both of us,” she stated.

“Every company that I applied to said that I needed work experience. I did not know how I was going to get the experience I needed to stand on my own two feet,” she continued.

Mariah was referred to CalWORKs Youth Employment Program (CYEP), which specializes in placing young people into paid work experience with local employers.

She began work readiness training, offered by the Workforce Development Board, and was placed in a job as an administrative assistant at Athens Services. When the six-month work experience came to an end, Mariah was hired on a full time basis.

“I am so grateful that these people believed in me, stuck by me, and changed my life in a positive way forever,” said Mariah. “I can now provide a better life for me and my son. I would like to thank the WDB and Athens Services for all of their help and for believing in me.”

Mariah Cruz

Mario was frustrated and having problems in high school due to his anger management issues and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

He was referred to John Muir Charter School, which is run by Operation New Hope and funded by the Workforce Development Board.

There, he expressed an interest in cooking and was provided with tools to help follow his dream of becoming a chef.

He received assistance to obtain his food handler’s card, took tours of local businesses offering food services, and explored culinary arts schools. In addition to these opportunities, Mario was also provided with mental health support and counseling.

His hard work and enthusiasm paid off. Mario was hired for part-time employment by Viva La Vegan, where he has developed a new and improved recipe for vegan horchata.

Mario commented, “I am now hopeful and confident about my future. The Workforce Development Board has helped me to realize my goals, and that I have the skills to become a great chef. Thank you.”

Mario Diaz

When 18-year-old Melody moved to California, she was unemployed, homeless, surviving on food stamps and living at a motel.

She tried desperately to find a job, but without any work experience employers were reluctant to hire her. A friend told her to seek help from the Workforce Development Board.

She attended classes to learn interview skills and job search techniques. She also earned a certificate in customer service skills, and the WDB placed her in a work experience position. The job has since become permanent.

Said Melody, “This program has helped me to gain the knowledge and skills I needed to survive. Before the program, I had no idea how to even start looking for a job. I also have the knowledge to know what to wear and how to speak in a job interview. It has been a great experience, and I am very glad there was a program like this to help me when I needed it.”

Melody Bartholic

When his parents abruptly divorced, Miles Woods was without a father figure and looked to older men in his neighborhood for guidance. Miles ended up dealing and using drugs despite his parents trying to steer him onto a straighter path. He soon had a baby boy to support and found that the streets were where he could make a quick buck. Eventually he was incarcerated on a misdemeanor drug charge, then released on probation.

Upon release, Miles was directed to the Provisional Accelerated Learning (PAL) Center where he received work readiness training, a boost in self-confidence and the realization that he has the potential to succeed in a career. He began vocational training in three areas of construction. He will receive certifications in each area once he completes the program. Miles will also be obtaining a forklift license and experience in warehousing.

“I am now a better person, and I am more determined to succeed,” Miles said. He is an acting ambassador for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act youth program through the PAL center and eager to recruit young men like himself who are seeking ways to leave their pasts behind and forge ahead in a positive, productive manner. “The WIOA program helped me feel good about myself, and I know that I can be a good worker and father if given the chance.”

Miles Woods

As hard as he tried, Nicholas Hernandez was not able to obtain employment. Having fallen into despair and hopelessness, he became entangled in illicit drugs, which led to his incarceration. Upon release, he managed to stay sober for a short stint, but easily fell back into the routine when free drugs were easily obtained. According to Nicholas, the drugs offered him an escape from the reality he faced, living with no job, no skills and no direction.

After his girlfriend asked him to shape up or ship out, Nicholas attended the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program orientation at the Provisional Accelerated Learning (PAL) Center and enrolled in the Construction Trainee program. He received work readiness training that included interview skills, resume preparation, and training in the importance of punctuality and time management. Once he completes the program, Nicholas will receive three certificates in the construction field and a forklift license.

“I think that this program may have saved my life,” Nicholas said. “I am motivated and for the first time in my life I am filled with hope.” Nicholas is a WIOA program ambassador and eager to help young men like himself change their lives for the better.

Nicholas Andrew Hernandez

Rueben and his family were homeless for most of his life, living at various motels, shelters and in their car. Despite these challenges, Rueben managed to graduate from high school determined to make a better life for himself.

Rueben enrolled in Operation MONEY where he received supportive services, training in interview techniques and resume writing, and career counseling. He was placed at Burlington Coat Factory through the Work Experience program, where he was offered permanent employment at the completion of his term.

Reuben is pursuing a certificate in Computer Repair at Crafton Hills College while he maintains his position at Burlington Coat Factory. The store manager referred to him as one of her best employees when evaluating his performance. He has since purchased his own car and looks forward to a successful future.

Reuben