Senator Mark Udall visited Mi Casa Resource Center on Wednesday to meet with students in Mi Casa’s Green Energy & Construction training program and discuss ways the government can promote renewable energy projects to get more unemployed Coloradans back to work.
“Green is the new red, white and blue,” said Senator Udall. “Investing in renewable energy is the most patriotic thing we can do. I’m not for changing the color of our flag, but we want to have the strongest country in the world and in the process create good jobs and keep our air and water clean.”
Senator Udall met with students enrolled in Mi Casa’s training programs and held a town hall meeting with Mi Casa students, staff, trainers, and community partners. Several people told Senator Udall about their difficulty finding work and asked him what the federal government is doing to create jobs on a large scale.
Charles Garcia, a recent Mi Casa graduate, told Senator Udall that having a felony on his record has crippled his job search. “It’s a huge barrier,” said Charles. “They like to say it isn’t but it usually knocks me completely out of the running.”
Udall responded by acknowledging that probably everyone had made a serious mistake at some point in their life; some folks just pay for those mistakes more than others. The Senator said he welcomed suggestions on how to lift some of the obstructions for job seeking ex-offenders. “We ought to do more to help people – once they have paid their debt to society –start their lives over again, which means being able to vote, get housing and find a job,” Udall said.
RJ Harrington, Managing Director of Simple Solar, a Mi Casa training partner, suggested the legislature create incentives for employers to provide ex-offenders with a two-week working interview, a practice Simple Solar uses with its ex-offender employees – and everyone else – to make sure it’s a good fit.
Senator Udall concluded by stating his commitment to removing some of the barriers ex-offenders face in the workforce and providing incentives for employers who hire them.
“You inspire me,” the Senator told the group gathered at Mi Casa. “I can’t wait to tell your stories.”