Mi Casa served more than 1,200 people in 2010. One of those people was Charles, a single father of five boys, who found himself in a desperate situation when he lost his job at the end of 2009. Charles is no stranger to struggle, but when he injured his back in 2009 and lost his job at UPS, he found himself on the brink of homelessness and urgently in need of help to get his career back on track.
No longer able to perform the type of physically demanding labor that was once his bread and butter, Charles heard about Mi Casa’s Green Construction & Energy training program and seized the opportunity to launch a career in the fast-growing industry of energy efficiency and weatherization. “Mi Casa gave me the opportunity to build a new skill set from the ground up,” says Charles. “Everyone has struggles inside them and scars from the past. But Mi Casa helped me see my strengths, which helped me start my career – this is much more than a job to me.”
With Mi Casa’s help, Charles secured two interviews and finally secured stable housing. It wasn’t long before Charles accepted a job offer from Veterans Green Jobs to work as an installer on weatherization projects. Though Charles is not a veteran, the nonprofit hired him to work under a state grant to provide home weatherization services to low-income families in Denver. He’s already gotten a raise, and now Charles is training to move up – eventually he wants to be a certified energy auditor.
While at Mi Casa, Charles met U.S. Senator Mark Udall, who visited the Green Construction & Energy class. Charles asked that Congress do more to expand opportunities for ex-offenders once they have paid their debt to society. Speaking for himself and many of his classmates with non-violent felony convictions, Charles pointed out that in a country purportedly in favor of second chances, many ex-offenders struggle the rest of their lives to find work. The conversation ended with Sen. Udall vowing to investigate ways to remove the barriers ex-offenders face, including providing incentives to employers who hire them.
Charles recalls his conversation with the Senator as a highlight from his time at Mi Casa. But the real reward for Charles’ hard work and commitment to Mi Casa’s career pathway program in Green Construction & Energy is undoubtedly his success in launching a promising new career that will enable him to create a better life for his five sons. “It means everything to me to be independent and able to care for my boys the way they deserve to be taken care of,” Charles says. “I’d do anything for Mi Casa, and someday I plan to support them in the same way they supported me.”