“Work Hard”

Despite the obstacles he faced, Winter of 2022 graduate Antonio Gonzalez is forging a path forward for himself and his family.

Before joining Constructing Hope, Antonio was living in Las Vegas, struggling to secure stable housing and make ends meet.

His uncle, who lives in Washington and is also in the trades, has a friend that is a former Constructing Hope graduate and had already entered into a local union.

“I heard entering the program was free entryway into getting all of certifications and a good start.” says Antonio.

Antonio then made a deal with his uncle that would give him a chance to start his career.

With his uncle’s help, Antonio got a one way ticket to Washington State, promising his uncle that he would join a pre-apprenticeship program and find work in the construction industry to repay him.

It wasn’t easy learning new skills in a new place but Antonio says Constructing Hope prepared him for what to expect on job sites and what’s needed to work in the construction industry.

“Constructing Hope showed me things I didn’t know in the construction industry and how it breaks down. I didn’t know much and I learned as I go. While my uncle knew certain things, I realized there was a lot more to the trades.” Antonio said.

Antonio says he is thankful that instructors, job developers and case managers instilled a culture of accountability, and didn’t sugarcoat the process.

Antonio is now a member of 701 (Heavy Equipment Operators) union, working with Knife River paving roads. He says he loves working with the machines and appreciates that the job isn’t too hard on his body. His goal is to now is to save up enough to buy a house at the end of 2023 and already has a plan in place to make it happen.

“Right now, my current goal is I give myself 50 weeks, every week I get paid I set aside a certain amount of savings from each paycheck. I want to put a down payment on a house. Currently, in 40 weeks, I can make a down payment.”