Wilma Gomez and Milton Grande with family at SoBro alumni event
Sometimes, it takes years to see the full impact of job readiness and training programs. While Jobs to Build On
places thousands of New Yorkers into good jobs every year, CWE and the City Council, which funds the program, know that a job is often the beginning of the journey.
SoBro, a Jobs to Build On partner serving the Bronx, recently held an event for its job training
program alumni. It was an opportunity to catch up with participants years, or even decades, after they graduated from SoBro’s workforce development programs.
Wilma Gomez and her husband Milton Grande came to SoBro for job readiness training in 2000. Each spent the succeeding years working their way up in customer service. Milton started as a customer service representative at A-Porcel and has since been promoted
to sales manager and project estimator. Wilma worked at the New York Post and then transitioned to Newhaven Distribution Services, where she manages two facilities.
Since attending SoBro, the couple purchased their first home.
Patrick Guity, a Jobs to Build On graduate at SoBro, took the customer service and security guard training courses.
He credits SoBro with helping him develop his work ethic and learn to manage a crisis, in life or on the job. Since graduating in 2016, he started work at a local security firm and is now a supervisor there.
Kerwin Rivera, SoBRO's Director of Workforce Development, says that his organization’s approach takes its clients short-term and long-term needs into account.
of the people we serve are young people with barriers,” says Rivera. “They are out of work, disconnected, low-skilled, or undereducated. We try to assist them in developing a plan, with short-term goals, like completing the Jobs to Build On program, getting
employment, and maintaining employment.”
“But, you also need a long-term approach, because there are no easy fixes for long-term economic self sufficiency, especially in New York City.”
SoBro stays connected with clients after they graduate by offering advice and additional services, connecting them to new job leads, and following up on their plan to help them stay on track for goals.
Events like the recent alumni reunion are opportunities to support graduates and current participants in SoBro’s programs. “We have found that it is really important to stay connected and honor graduates, because they serve as an inspiration to current participants,”
He also says that hearing about the successes of SoBro graduates reenergized staff to keep up the work.
“The buzz from the event went on for a while. It validated all that we do.”