Lisa Rhodes grew up in Prunedale, right outside of Salinas. When she graduated from high school, she started college, but she had a son very young, and then struggled with a meth addiction.
While in a halfway house, she made a decision that she was going to change the direction of her life. She met with job counselors and spent hours on the internet researching careers. But her opportunity came when she saw a flyer for the Trades Orientation Program.
If I hadn’t found the Trades Orientation Program, my life would be so different. Now my life has structure, and I have something that is mine forever, as long as I want it.
Lisa was still in custody through the halfway house when she started in TOP. By the time the class ended, she had already applied for several apprenticeships. She was thrilled when the Cement Masons told her that not only was her application accepted, but her first long-term work assignment would be building the new Apple campus in Cupertino.
“I was shocked by how fast things started moving,” says Lisa. “I became a Cement Mason apprentice, got assigned to a jobsite, bought a car, and then went to work on the Apple site.”
When she went to apply for the Cement Masons, Lisa recalls, she knew next to nothing about what Cement Masons do or how to do it. “But that’s the great thing about apprenticeships,” she says. “They only expect you to be willing and able to learn.” Now, working with an experienced crew, she asks plenty of questions, and her senior crew members go out of their way to make sure she learns.
Lisa said she’s a completely different person now than she was before the class. “If I hadn’t found the Trades Orientation Program, my life would be so different. Now my life has structure, and I have something that is mine forever, as long as I want it.”
“I have a pension and health care, I earn time off and overtime, and I have a future. I really encourage people to try it—even if taking that first step seems scary, you just have to do it.”