Irving enters a classroom of eager young men and women who just enrolled in Hope Builders 16-week construction training program. Not long ago, he sat in one of those seats, looking to build a better life. Today, he volunteers his time by sharing his story.
His message to them is simple. Everyone here—classmates, staff and Hope Builders’ supporters— wants to see you succeed. A bright future awaits you—but you will need to work hard and above all, never lose hope.
Irving grew up in Santa Ana with his mom and two older brothers. His family lived in the part of the neighborhood where look- ing at someone the wrong way could get you into seri- ous trouble.
In order to support the family, Irving’s mom worked two, sometimes three jobs.
“My mom always made sure we had food, clothes and school supplies—what any parent would want for their kids.”
Despite these needs being met, Irving still struggled. With his mom working around the clock, it was easy for him to get into trouble. When he was only 11, Irving had his first drink and smoked his first cigarette. Eventually, he experimented with other drugs.
Irving knew that his future looked bleak. Both of his brothers were in a gang and were constantly cycling in and out of jail.
Irving didn’t want to head down this same path, so he looked for work.
There were plenty of jobs out there, but with only a high school diploma and no experience, Irving kept hearing “no” wherever he went.
With the right skills, Irving could land a quality job but instead, all he could find were dead-end ones working in fast food. At this rate, he would be stuck working multiple minimum wage jobs like his mom.
Irving found the change he needed when his friend introduced him to Hope Builders’ construction training program. Getting paid a weekly stipend while receiving job training drew Irving to the program.
He gained so much more than he expected.
The program taught him construction principles and life skills such as time management, leadership and teamwork. He discovered a new- found confidence during the program.
After completing training, Irving gained the marketable skills he previously lacked to find work. For the past 9 months, Irving has been working as a laborer with a general construction company. His earnings have increased 48% to $17.70/hour with full health benefits. He is also continuing his education through Associated General Contractors (AGC) and hopes to become a journeyman.
With his new job, Irving can take care of his family in a way he didn’t think was possible. He has relocated them to a better neighborhood and is now leading his family to the future they only once imagined.
“Without Hope Builders, I would probably be working the same dead-end jobs or be in jail. I am happy to come back and give others hope. Hope is the best gift you can give someone—look what it did for me.”