Meet Six WorkTexas Graduates

Terry Swenson Featured, HomeAid Houston, Workforce Development

Pictured left to right: Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, WorkTexas founder; Cinthia Sandoval, WorkTexas graduate; Jose and Alexis Rodriguez, father and son WorkTexas graduates; and Davina Cunningham, HomeAid America.

HomeAid Houston recently honored six graduates of the WorkTexas training program, a non-profit entity that prepares high school students and adults with the skills they need to enter the workforce ready to contribute immediately to employers’ businesses, as well as advance in that field or another field of their choice. HomeAid Houston is partnering with WorkTexas through the agency’s own HomeAid WORKS, a comprehensive workforce development program that is designed to help provide job opportunities within the construction industry for economically challenged youth.

The six graduates, ranging in age from 18 to late thirties, completed three months of construction classes that included foundation, framing, roofing and installation of siding, sheetrock and windows, electrical and plumbing, and jobsite safety. These students received certification in all areas that will help launch them into the residential construction arena with local building or building service companies.
Erwin Vallejo was looking for a new path in a career that would help him develop a broad range of construction skills combined with life skills. His goal is to secure a long-term future within residential construction, a new field of interest for him.

“Once I have the experience, I would like to lead my own crew,” said Vallejo. “I am looking for a builder to work with on the north side of the Greater Houston area.”


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As Vallejo grows in his newfound career, he is also interested in furthering his education through the GHBA’s continuing education classes that include the ABCs of Home Building, the Building Blocks of Business, contracts and dozens of others, an opportunity HomeAid Houston’s WORKS program would fund.

Juan Molina, currently an assistant manager at an event company also completed the program. His long-time passion for carpentry inspired him to take his talent of building customized venues for special events and apply it to residential or commercial construction. He completed the WorkTexas program and is considering options that will allow him to use his creativity while developing a successful career. He continues to share his own creations for events, that are often on his Instagram account @jam.designs504.

Another graduate, Cinthia Sandoval has spent nearly 10 years working as a project coordinator and a project manager in the underground utilities industry. As her career unfolded, she realized she liked what she did, but not in that industry. “I realized that I really wanted to be in residential construction so I could see the project from start with a foundation, to the final product, a beautiful home,” she said. “That motivated me to find a program that would give me the training I would need. WorkTexas gave me that, and HomeAid Houston was also a large part in helping me see the potential for my future.”

Sandoval began working right out of high school. She worked her way up through several organizations managing projects that involved millions of dollars in underground utilities, concrete paving, demolition and asbestos. When she discovered WorkTexas from an Instagram post, she applied for a scholarship to help with the cost to enroll. Through Houston Community College’s (HCC) Career for You Scholarship, she paid only $20 to attend the required HCC Essential Learning class that taught her daily life skills. Working through this fund, she was guaranteed a place in the WorkTexas three-month program.

Learning how to frame a house was the spark that ignited 21-year-old Aubrey Scott’s desire to plan a future as a framer in the homebuilding industry. “Learning to frame, and then seeing the frame completed,” said Scott, “is like seeing the bones of the house. It is satisfying work to know you are a huge part of this key stage of homebuilding.”

Scott learned about the course through his grandmother who saw there was a job fair at Gallery Furniture’s WorkTexas Training Center. “Not only did I learn about framing, cutting and hanging sheet rock, and all the other stages of construction,” said Scott, “I learned life skills such as being patient. I learned to not be ahead with my hands, to do it right the first time and it will save money, time, and frustration.” Scott is interested in running his own framing crew in the future.

Father and son, Jose and Alexis Rodgriguez received a residential electrical certification and plan to work together as a team.

HomeAid continues to partner with a number of workforce entities to help build the next generation of skilled construction workers with the WORKS program. HomeAid is currently working directly with three of its agency partners—Angel Reach, Boys and Girls Country, and Family Promise of Lake Houston—to offer this opportunity to youth who have met the qualifications to enter programs and attend classes.
The students take classes at assigned locations through HomeAid WORKS partnerships with WorkTexas and the Home Building Institute (HBI). The classes conform to nationally recognized industry standards. They include: Brick, Carpentry, Electrical Wiring, Building Construction Technology, HVAC, Landscape, Painting, Plumbing Apprentice, Irrigation, Drywall, Foundation and Trim Work.

About the Author
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Terry Swenson

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A writer and a photographer, Terry Swenson is GHBA's Director of Public Relations. She is also the founder of the PictureThis Project, which puts cameras in the hands of Houston's homeless and allows them to share their story, through their lens.