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Gelvin’s Story: Learning a New Trade

November 6, 2020

Gelvin Hernandez

Gelvin Hernandez first came to this country with his brother from Guatemala when he was 16 years old. He is currently 23 and has been living in Marin for six years. While making the trek for a better life, Gelvin and his brother were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and they worked with Canal Alliance to overcome their legal troubles.

After arriving in Marin, Gelvin’s brother told him about a new program at Canal Alliance, and he quickly connected with Regina Vindel, the Workforce Development Career Navigator. Regina helped him enroll in the new Construction Certification course as part of our Workforce Development program. 

Launched in the Fall of 2018, the program offers a 12-week construction certification course. The program includes a combination of evening lectures, weekend lab/field days, financial literacy workshops, and skills training to support job application and interview preparedness. Students who complete the course earn a construction certificate, college credits from College of Marin, and can participate in a virtual hiring fair hosted by a select group of members and businesses of the Marin Builders Association. To participate in the hiring fair, all employers are required to offer a minimum starting wage of $21 per hour and full benefits. 

Before joining the Workforce Development program, Gelvin worked for a small construction company, that did not offer insurance or benefits.  After completing the program in June 2019, Gelvin was able to secure a new job in roofing with better pay. However, this summer, Regina reached out to Gelvin to let him know of a new job opportunity in San Rafael and worked with him to update his resume and apply for the position.  

Gelvin now works at Guide Dogs for the Blind where he does landscaping, construction, roofing, and handyman work for the organization. In addition to working closer to home, Gelvin now has employment benefits, including health and dental insurance for himself and his family. He also has a life insurance policy, a retirement plan and enjoys having paid time off and holidays. 

Gelvin is fortunate to have remained employed through the entire pandemic. In April, Regina and her colleagues reached out to all Workforce Development students to check in about their employment status and offer support. When she contacted Gelvin to offer financial assistance from the Canal Alliance Client Support Fund, he declined, saying he is lucky to be working and would rather that money support another family or individual who needed it. 

Gelvin is thankful for completing the Construction Training Program because he learned skills, such as a carpentry and how to properly handle concrete, which makes his current work feel easier. He is thankful for the help he’s received from Regina, who not only helped him enroll in the program, but checked in with him throughout his participation in the course, and reached out about the job opportunity at Guide Dogs for the Blind. He credits her with helping him get to where he is now.   

According to Gelvin, Canal Alliance opened the doors for a new life for him, and is thankful for the help Canal Alliance has provided to him, his family, and the community at large. 

Read more posts in: Client Story, Workforce Development

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