Employment Services graduates embark on new careers
Published Oct. 15, 2019
Nicole Brogdon wears a bracelet of rainbow beads along with her heavy gloves, hard hat and sturdy boots as she hoists beams high up in the wings of a Sacramento building under construction.
Her four-year-old daughter made the bracelet at preschool, a “work bracelet” to keep her safe in her job as an iron worker on construction sites.
“She’s proud of me,” Brogdon beams. “(She) says she wants to be an iron worker.”
Brogdon is a single mom who waitressed for many years, and whose past run-ins with the law had made it difficult to imagine a future with a career.
“I finally got to a point where I was ready to fight,” she said. “I was ready to fight to change things, to do things different and have a better life.”
She came to Placer County’s Employment Services and explained her situation: she wanted to jump into a job quickly, as there wasn’t time to get a four-year college degree. Her worker suggested going into a trade, and connected her with Northern California Construction Training. At the time, she said she really didn’t even know how to swing a hammer.
Now, that’s all changed.
“I love it,” she said. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity; it’s a game-changer.”
Brogdon is one of handfuls of Employment Services graduates celebrated at the program’s annual recognition event earlier this week. The program is targeted to CalWORKs recipients and offers help with work experience or vocational training; job searches and more, including supportive services like childcare or transportation that would be a barrier to someone’s ability to hold down a job.
For Jason Smith, that meant help getting shoes, boots and gloves for his caulking job.
“Anything I needed that I couldn't get myself, they helped me with. And they were really supportive, and that means a lot,” he said.
Lissett Carrasquel had lost her job and her home when she arrived at the doorstep of Employment Services, and was staying with family.
“The staff… treated me great,” she said. “All the support I needed was actually there for me.”
Staff stayed on the lookout for positions matching her interests, and eventually connected her with the Latino Leadership Council, a local nonprofit organization that was looking for bilingual employees to be ‘promotoras,’ or community workers who help clients connect with social services and supports.
Carrasquel has thrived in the role.
“I actually feel that I belong. I love what I do,” she said. “I feel like I accomplish something every day.”
View photos from the recognition event below.