The photo above was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fresno EOC Head Start 0 to 5 is full of friendly faces, and there are hundreds of individuals who make a classroom a tremendous educational experience for families. Ronnie Cantu, Building Maintenance and Support Services Coordinator, oversees Head Start’s facilities and over 35 sites. For him, it’s more than just a job; he and his team ensure our buildings are safe and maintained for our future leaders. Cantu has been with the agency for eight years and goes by the motto in his email signature, “building and maintaining Head Start facilities for our future leaders, those we serve.”
“While you’re on the job, you get a lot of curious kids coming up to you,” Cantu said. “They ask about your work, and you have a lot of interactions with kids, even if it’s just to explain the kind of tools we use. I think we’ve all had the opportunity to sit down and have lunch with the staff and kids.”
Cantu’s ties to children’s education stem from his time even before working in building management. He has ten years of experience working with children in the classroom as a former pre-school teacher and Kindergarten aid. After a few downturns in the economy, Cantu was left looking for new job opportunities; he transitioned to construction work and eventually found Fresno EOC.
The irony in Cantu’s journey to his position is that he got help looking for a job and preparing his resume with Fresno EOC’s Workforce Connection program. The staff helped guide him for a few months and referred him to a job fair with Head Start 0 to 5, where he was soon hired.
“It’s rare to get training in one place and then get hired at the same one,” Cantu said. “Now, I’m in the same building, and it’s neat to see how everything worked out.”
Cantu remembers when Café EOC was once a computer room to look for jobs and build your resume. The computers have since been moved, but for him, it’s a memory of how far he’s come.
Now, Cantu is on the roof one minute and then working on a facility renovation the next. The joys of his job keep him active and excited about the start of each day. During the beginning of the pandemic, his crew helped Head Start facilitate diaper and food distributions for families. Although COVID-19 has brought many challenges, he’s happy to give back to families through his work at Fresno EOC.
“I love being here with the agency and what this agency is all about,” Cantu said. “We do more than just education or pre-school; we are a true Community Action Agency. From Low Income Energy Assistance to Local Conservation Corps, we have so many programs to help people.”
Cantu is among those working behind the scenes to ensure our agency can continue to operate and help families every day.