Success Stories

Juan has always worked hard, but had never got the break in life that we all need.  Juan’s story is one of perseverance.  

Juan arrived to the United States as a teenager from Nayarit, Mexico in 1997.  Once in the United States, he went to live with his uncle in Livingston, CA.  With little education, limited English skills and no legal residence, it was difficult for him to find employment.  Instead, he decided to go to school and enrolled at Livingston High School. 

Like many people who learn English as their second language, he was faced with difficulties and faced many struggles.  It got to the point where the struggles at school and home became too much and he decided to drop out of school and move out of his uncle’s home.  Without a job or a place to stay, he was forced to find his own shelter.  He stayed with friends when he could, but from time to time, he found himself sleeping under any roof he could, including his car or under a bridge.  It was a tough time for him.  

He began working in the fields harvesting fruits and sweet potatoes.  After a few months, he knew that a life of field work would be very tough and knew that in order to find a better job, he needed to continue his education.  He enrolled in summer school classes and was able to successfully obtain his high school diploma.  

With his diploma in hand, Juan was eager to begin moving forward and looked to transition into construction work; however, as an unsupervised young man, out on his own, he got involved with a group of friends that were not your model citizens.  But Juan was alone with no family, so these friends were his only support system.  Consequently, Juan’s good use of judgment and decision making kept him out of trouble, even though some of his friends weren’t as lucky.

 During the construction boom, Juan was able to add construction work to his resume.  With the added income, he was ready to now rent his first apartment.  Even though he had the money for it, he was still undocumented and he had a difficult time finding an apartment.  Finally, he got someone to co-sign for him and now had a roof over his head.  After a few years of working in construction, the housing market in the valley started to slow down considerably and Juan went back to doing farm work.  Along the way he made a close friend by the name of Olga Briones.  The high paying construction jobs had gone away and he couldn’t afford his own place, so he asked Olga to move in as a roommate.  Over time, their friendship blossomed into a relationship and eventually marriage.  A couple of years later Juan was able to secure his resident status. 

Struggling to find construction work, he went back to the fields earning minimum wage.  Struggling once again, it was Olga who told Juan about CVOC.  In 2010, he visited CVOC and enrolled in the Truck Driving course in hopes to obtain his Class A License.  In less than 2 months, he was able to successfully complete the course and received his Class A License.   As part of his training agreement, the CVOC job developer helped him secure employment.  After months of being denied from nearly 25 employers, he was hired as a truck driver in 2011 with J.R. Simplot Company, one of the largest privately held food and agribusiness companies in the nation.  He started off earning $13.75/hr and after only a year, his hourly wage increased to $14.75/hr and has medical, dental and retirement benefits.  During his 2nd and 3rd quarters (six months) in 2012, he earned more than $18,000.  In comparison, in the same amount of months prior to enrolling at CVOC he earned $1,300.

Due to Juan’s perseverance, he now has a beautiful wife, three kids, owns his own home and has a career that he and his family can be proud of.  From time to time Juan thinks about his former friends and occasionally receives calls from them from jail.  They tell him that they wish they would have followed the same path that he did and they ask him to continue doing well not only for himself, but for them as well.  Juan has taken on this challenge and it drives him to succeed every day and when the opportunity arises, he stops to help, encourage and mentor others.

Central Valley Opportunity Center

6838 Bridget Ct. • PO Box 1389 • Winton, CA 95388

TEL:  2093570062  •  FAX:  2093570071