What began as a pilot project with Fresno EOC Valley Apprenticeship Connections (VAC) and Habitat for Humanity continued as a partnership dedicated to uplifting communities and assisting homeowners. VAC students regularly volunteer with Habitat’s Act of Kindness program, aimed at providing minor beautification support to residents such as trash pickup, window washing, lawn mowing, painting etc. Students gain hands-on experience, meet local contractors and engage in revitalization projects, helping neighborhoods with little access to resources thrive.
“Having Valley Apprenticeship Connections come and help us means everything for Habitat,” Marina Harutyunyan, Neighborhood Revitalization Director said. “This gives us the desire to find projects and serve more homeowners because we have a group of people, using this opportunity to refine their skills but who are also willing to take the time to interact and help people.”
As students are in the VAC program preparing for a career in the construction industry, this partnership allows them to connect classroom and field-based instruction with nearby community-led projects. Most students volunteer during the week as required by VAC, but some also volunteer on the weekend, assisting with neighborhood beautification, landscaping work and fixtures for handicap stairways. Students log their volunteer hours during their time with VAC and celebrate their completed hours at graduation.
“For those that can volunteer with Habit, they come back with big smiles,” Amalia Martinez, VAC Director said. “Homeowners take pictures with them out of appreciation, showing how much their work meant to them.”
Manuel Garcia recently completed the VAC program. He volunteered with Habitat for Humanity not just as a VAC student but also on his own time. Working on revitalization projects he’s enjoyed serving the community while meeting new people and gaining hands-on experience.
“When someone’s house looks nice they feel good about themselves,” Garcia said. “It’s a rewarding experience because we get to help the elderly and people who can’t work on their homes themselves. Some of the places we volunteered were just a few blocks away from my neighborhood.”
With VAC, students take on an intense 12-week training to prepare them for a new career path in construction. This partnership gives Habitat for Humanity the opportunity to serve more homeowners, while those in the pre-apprenticeship program can make a difference and apply their volunteer hours as work experience for union and non-union jobs alike. Projects like these are an added value to the program as VAC students make connections with contractors, develop their soft-skills and leave ready to take on the workforce. Learn more about Valley Apprenticeship Connections (VAC)