VAC continues to support positive pathways towards personal and career achievement

Posted on Oct 07, 2019

Fresno EOC Valley Apprenticeship Connections (VAC) inspires people and transforms lives through its dedication to creating employment pathways for the Central Valley’s underserved adult populations.

VAC believes all individuals should have access and opportunity to earn livable wages and a chance to advance their career. This empowers individuals to thrive as self-sufficient and contributing members of our community. Learn more about VAC’s past and current students by reading their stories below.

Photo of Eric and instructor while Eric uses torch while wearing safety gear.

VAC program “Thinking for Change” curriculum makes a lasting impact on Eric

Eric completed the “Thinking for Change” curriculum through the Maintenance Mechanics Training. For him the curriculum provided him with a newfound work ethic and understanding of his own goals.

“The lessons I learned with the curriculum have helped me in everyday life; it’s helped me with friends, family and work,” said Eric. “This program gives people who want to succeed a second chance. I’m thankful for the instructors and what they bring.”

With the curriculum students hear from motivational speakers, improve their communication skills and learn how to manage conflict in the workplace.

“Students are better prepared to start the second phase of the technical training after taking the “Thinking for Change” curriculum with Valley Apprenticeship Connections,” said Dale Putman the Fresno City College Instructor for the Maintenance Mechanics program. “The students from the VAC program don’t play around; they are ready to learn, are organized, comfortable and confident in the classroom.”           

Eric will soon finish the 15-week Maintenance Mechanics program. He is wrapping up classroom visits from industry employers, student tours in manufacturing plant sites and industry interviews for possible job placement in the field of mechanics.

VAC program leads Travis to a career 

Travis wearing safety gear and holding a jack hammer on a job site

Travis was homeless and struggling with drug addiction when he started as pre-apprentice with the VAC program. He joined the program with the intention of making a positive change in his life.

Travis often arrived 45 minutes early to class and was always prepared to learn more about construction. His efforts didn’t go unnoticed because at the end of the program Travis received a perfect attendance certificate for his timeliness and consistency as a student. 

“Since finishing the program, things have been great,” said Travis. “I wake up thinking about how I love going to work every day,”

Travis’ journey since getting a job has been what he calls a “surreal experience.” He is now an apprentice with a local Labor Union. Finding a job has allowed him to move into a healthier living environment and he is now able to focus on his sobriety.

Photo of Savannah in an office during an interview.

Former student Savannah gets a second chance at life

Savannah changed her life with the VAC program and remains an example of what parolees can do once given an opportunity. While working for a local roofing company, Savannah is able to gain a steady income and provide for her family.

For Savannah the “Thinking for Change” curriculum sticks out as a highlight during her time with VAC. The curriculum provided Savannah with a smooth transition from prison to working full-time. With the program she enjoyed volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and in October marks the longest period of time she has not been incarcerated since the age of 13.

“I’m contributing towards my pension, vacation and health care,” said Savannah. “I’m able to take care of my son and have another chance to do things right. All we ever need is a chance. This program has given me a chance; it changed my life.”

Savannah recently received a financial incentive for practicing safety on-the-job and continues to enjoy her job as a roofer. Financial stability allowed her to move out of an unhealthy living environment and into stable housing for her and her son.