Your Story: Sacramento man turns life around with help from workforce program

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“Your Story” is a new series from FOX40’s Eric Harryman that explores extraordinary people who have turned the tables on fate and created success stories in unlikely places.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The Salvation Army’s Construction Training Program is not just job training. It is free career training designed to be the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

It is a tunnel that one man said he is blessed to not have traveled through alone.

“Man, is it gonna get better? Is enough gonna be enough?” said Gregorio. “You just want to give up. I just wanted to give up. I just was like I’m done.”

But Gregorio did not give up and his situation got better, which meant things were nowhere near done.

“Family got sick, job, car issues, it just seemed like one thing after another,” he said.

Gregorio had been at rock bottom but there were three big reasons to climb back up: 6-year-old Ayden, 20-month-old Arabella and Giovanna, who is only 37 days old.

“I’d be on the streets. I’d be living in a tent somewhere downtown off the river” said Gregorio. “You know, it’s hard for men to reach out and say, ‘Hey, I need this helping hand.’”

Despite that barrier, he did ask for help and it landed him in the construction training program.

“It’s just indescribable,” said Gregorio. “I can’t describe it.”

When the program is over, the group Gregorio is a part of will have the skills and training to step into the high paying, high demand world of construction.

Someone to see your potential

Sergio Cortez leads the charge for the Salvation Army’s Workforce Development Program. While he has two decades in the construction industry, Cortez said his greatest tool is not his construction experience. His greatest tool is rooted in the concept of been there, done that.

“I did my time in prison. Did my time in rehab for drug abuse,” Cortez told FOX40. “Sixteen-year-old drop out of high school. I was that kid. I was that guy.”

Cortez said when he served his time and got out, he had to rely on his two hands to help save him.

But he was not alone. There was also someone who saw his potential to be much more.

“I was so lucky to have that one person reach his hand out and say, ‘Come, let me help you.’ And here I am now being able to say, ‘Come, let me up you ’cause I’ve been there,’” said Cortez.

Cortez is now that person for several people, including Gregorio.

“Sergio, Sergio is amazing,” said Gregorio. “He looks you in your eyes. He respects you as a man. He knows your situation and he treats you as an equal.”

After graduation, the Salvation Army Job Placement will get Gregorio back into the workforce and back on his feet. He’ll be able to make a paycheck that will support his growing family of five all with his own two hands and the teachings of someone who saw that he could be more.

“Just strive daily to get to that goal. And here we are,” said Gregorio. “I got blessed.”

Submit Your Story below, email or contact Eric Harryman on Facebook or Twitter.

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