“As a single mom, I used to work two jobs without benefits and still couldn’t afford my own place to live,” says Ciji. After completing the five week Apprentice Ready Program, she is now employed full-time with Laborers 663, including benefits. Having achieved the economic stability to provide a home for her family and regain custody of her son, Ciji is no longer uncertain of the future.
Wanting to create a better life for herself and her son, Ciji didn’t know where to turn until her Kansas City halfway house counselor gave her an Apprentice Ready Program flier. She quickly moved to Springfield and joined its first cohort. She was mildly concerned about being a woman pursuing the building trades, but as she made connections through the Missouri Works Initiative and United Way of the Ozarks, she grew confident in her decision. As for the physicality of the work, Ciji says the experience “…has taught me that I can work just as good as a man.”
After a week of orientation, Ciji was able to visit each trade, eventually choosing the Labor Union. “I do a lot of concrete, demolition, commercial remodeling, and job site cleanup. I like that every day I can do something different,” she says.
Ciji is already looking to the future, when one day she hopes to become a foreman. She says, “I’d love to be able to work my way up the ladder–to accomplish that. My life now is so much better than the life I was living. The pay is great, I have job security, and everyday is a new learning experience. If you’re out there considering this program, just do it! Quit putting it off and take that first step!”