If you had told me five years ago that I, Manny Tapia, would find a job where I was earning $30 an hour, I would've called you crazy. You see, five years ago I was arrested for driving under the influence, had my license revoked and got my car impounded. Unable to report to work, I lost my job working in the shipping and receiving department at the RSD warehouse where I was making minimum wage. As a 20-year-old with a wife and daughter to support, I didn't know where to find the help I needed to change my life.
I ran into a friend from high school who told me about Taller San Jose's job training programs and how they helped her become a medical assistant. I went to their office the next day to apply and enroll in their construction training program.
At Taller San Jose I learned the fundamentals of the building trades and every day did some electrical, plumbing, framing, and drywall installation. I spent three hours a day improving my math skills. The training went beyond construction and included fatherhood classes, tools to build and maintain a healthy relationship and the mentoring I needed to get my life back on track. Taller San Jose helped me become a better man.
After graduation I was hired by Hope Builders for $10 an hour. Hope Builders is a licensed general contracting company owned by Taller San Jose. It hires graduates of Taller San Jose's construction program and revitalizes distressed properties throughout Southern California. At Hope Builders I worked side by side with industry professionals and other program graduates. I could feel myself becoming more confident as I gained new experience in demolition, painting, installing flooring and bathroom and kitchen remodeling. I didn't miss a day of work and could tell my supervisors relied on me to be a leader.
My hard work paid off and my supervisor suggested that I apply for a job opening at Portrait Homes, which I did. I am proud that I am now a Drywall Laborer for Portrait Homes, Inc. where I earn $30 an hour, have full health benefits and my very own retirement plan.
It has been a long, winding journey, but I am now proud to be a father, husband and a provider for my family.
Help Taller San Jose give others the second chance I got by visiting www.crowdrise.com/TallerSanJose-jr and making a gift to provide real employment opportunities to youth through its social enterprise and general contracting company, Hope Builders.