March is Women’s History Month
Read about five of our female participants who are working to make a difference in their lives while serving as models for women working in construction.
Single mother Monique Donjuan is grateful to have recently worked on a six-month assignment at The Grand project. Not only because it’s one of the largest development projects in the city, but the assignment enabled her to provide a better living for her two children. The role was an opportunity she wouldn’t have otherwise received had it not been for PVJOBS. Just a year ago, Monique was struggling to make ends meet for her family. She wanted to change her circumstances by finding stable work. Yet, instead of taking any job, she wanted to pursue a career. When a friend who worked at PVJOBS told her about their training programs, she felt hopeful that the organization could help her establish a career. She soon enrolled in the Construction 101 course, which included the OSHA training program that taught her the skills she needed to work in construction safety. The training made her eligible to be hired as a safety spotter for The Grand project. Monique credits PVJOBS for providing her with the encouragement she needed to endeavor a construction career. “My union career provides a good life for my family,” she says.
PVJOBS staffer Maribel Gomez says that working for the organization has transformed her life. Her job has given her the ability to take care of her family while helping her regain a sense of hope that often alluded her earlier in her life. Born and raised in La Puente, Maribel grew up with a social network of negative influences that led to her making bad life decisions. As a young adult, she took a series of wrong paths that resulted in a prison sentence. Following her release, she sought to put her life back together by finding ways to earn a living. But her incarceration record made it nearly impossible to find work over the next several years. After becoming a single mother of two, her need for financial stability became even more pressing. Realizing her dilemma, a family friend recommended that she enroll in PVJOBS. With a personal interest in the construction industry, Maribel took the Construction 101 course. The comradery she felt while participating in the class gave her the confidence she needed to apply for a position as a jobs coordinator for PVJOBS. She landed the job, a role that requires her to visit construction sites to monitor workers. “I love what I do,” says Maribel, who was recently promoted to an administrator. “Everyone at PVJOBS has been so helpful and supportive.”
Ronita Harper thinks that working as a tile finisher apprentice for The Grand project is one of the coolest assignments ever. “They’re the highest buildings I’ve ever worked on,” says Harper of the $1 billion development project. “I love the view of downtown Los Angeles.” What makes Ronita feel even more thrilled about working on the project is that only a year ago she never would have dreamed of working at such a massive construction site. With a history of incarceration, Ronita often had difficulty finding stable work in the job market except for low-wage jobs in warehousing. When her probation officer recommended that she visit PVJOBS, she took a chance by reaching out to the organization. She soon enrolled in the Tech Math class, which led to her eventual hire by Paramount Tile. Two years later, Ronita continues to work for the same tile company that has a contract with The Grand project. With hopes of becoming an electrician one day, Ronita plans to enroll in a boot camp course to expand her construction trade skills. She feels indebted to PVJOBS for opening the doors of her construction career. “I’m definitely grateful to PVJOBS,” she says. “I wouldn’t have joined a union or worked at becoming an electrician without them.”
As a laborer for CEG Construction, Raynise Rangel feels like she’s in her zone working in construction. “I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy and liked getting my hands dirty,” she says. Although construction work comes naturally to Raynise, she spent much of her adult life working in dead-end jobs in other industries. Five years ago, Raynise, a single mother of two, found herself struggling to pay the bills for her household. Her fears got the best of her, leading her to make the regrettable mistake of committing an act of theft, resulting in a brief jail sentence. When she returned to the job market, Raynise encountered barriers to employment due to her criminal record, despite having no other prior offenses. She eventually found part-time work at a retail store, but the job was short-lived when she was laid off during the pandemic. Miraculously, during the time of her layoff, a friend introduced her to a PVJOBS staffer who felt compassion about her plight. The conversation led to Raynise enrolling in the Construction 101 course, where she was impressed to see other women like her pursuing construction careers. “My experience with PVJOBS has been life changing,” she says. “I love learning more about construction, and it’s helped me put food on the table.”
Dana Smith is a construction industry painter who has always had a passion for her trade. As an apprentice painter for The Grand project in downtown Los Angeles, Dana is using her painting skills to work on her biggest construction project to date. The experience is a life affirming one, as it has bolstered Dana’s self-assurance, a feeling that she hadn’t felt throughout much of her life. Raised in Watts, Dana got into trouble as a teenager and spent time in juvenile hall. Years later, after becoming a mother of two, she tried to improve her life by using her naturally gifted skills as a painter to earn a living. But when her paint jobs dried up during the pandemic, she became desperate to find work. So when a friend told her about a painting gig at the PVJOBS headquarters, she jumped at the opportunity. It was during her PVJOBS painting assignment when Dana learned about the organization’s training programs targeting formerly incarcerated individuals like herself. The exposure prompted her to enroll in the job program, which eventually led to several construction assignments, including The Grand project. While Dana hopes to have her own painting company someday, she realizes that her current job assignments are making a positive impact on her life. “Working like this makes me feel confident,” she says. “My daughters look up to me by seeing that I’m doing something productive.”