Carlos Carrillo is a 23-year old man who came to the United States from Guatemala and has lived in Marin for six years. With a wife and a one-month-old son, his biggest priority at this time is taking care of his family.
When Carlos first arrived in Marin County at the age of 16, he was told that Canal Alliance helps immigrants. His first contact was with a lawyer from our Immigration Legal Services team who helped him navigate the immigration process and obtain work authorization and residency. The lawyer also connected him with classes offered by Canal Alliance in ESL and computer technology, which helped him transition to living and working in the United States.
Carlos says, “Since first coming to Marin, Canal Alliance has provided a lot of support and guidance. As my lawyer got to know me more, she recommended that I enroll in the first construction class offered as part of Canal Alliance’s new Workforce Development Program in the fall of 2018.”
While Carlos has always worked in construction, he admits he didn’t have much technical knowledge before joining the Workforce Development program. “The construction training really opened the door for me and gave me the opportunity to learn about different topics I had no prior experience with,” says Carlos. “For example, before joining the class, I didn’t know how to read construction plans, but now I do. I have gained a lot of technical knowledge that has helped me advance my career in construction.”
After completing the construction certification course, Carlos was selected by the teacher to serve as the teaching assistant for the next course, where he helped teach the next cohort of students. Carlos says, “it was completely unexpected, but because of this opportunity, I got to work really close with the instructor and learn so much more about construction than I could have imagined.”
Since completing the course and working as a teaching assistant, many things have changed for Carlos. “With the new skills and knowledge I have acquired,” he says, “my wages have gone up. My work also feels easier, because understand aspects of construction in ways that I wasn’t able to before. I have certifications that let me handle different machinery, I know about carpentry, and know how to handle tools that help me tremendously with my work. I am now certified to work in advanced construction, and I am working toward my contractor’s license.”
The support Carlos receives from Canal Alliance has continued during the Covid-19 crisis, “When the pandemic first began, Canal Alliance provided cash assistance for me and students in the Workforce Development Program who had lost their jobs. This helped me and my family tremendously.” Like many others, Carlos lost his employment immediately after shelter in place was issued. “Canal Alliance also helped me to fill out the paperwork for unemployment. Whenever I have a question about an email, paperwork I need to complete, or anything else, I reach out to Canal Alliance, and they are there to help.”
“While I was directed to Canal Alliance for help years ago, says Carlos, “I can now say from my own experience that Canal Alliance is a great help for immigrants. I have received a lot of help from Canal Alliance, and the opportunities I have had because of Canal Alliance have changed my life.”