PHOENIX — Every morning Justino Balderrama heads off to his job. He works for Chas Roberts Air Conditioning building ventilation systems.
"I do all the measuring, the blueprints, figuring out where the vents are going to go, the ductwork and cutting the metal," Balderrama says.
From a seven-year stint in prison to a full-time job, Balderrama has come a long way in a little more than a year. He had help. St. Joseph the Worker is a Valley non-profit dedicated to removing barriers and provide resources to help people like Balderrama find and keep a job.
"St. Joseph the Worker can provide almost everything except their own motivation," Director of Development Katie Thorson says.
On any given day, there are 55,000 available jobs in Maricopa County. Employers ready to hire. For many, those jobs seem out of reach. No resume, no car, prison time.
At St. Joseph the Worker, there are no excuses. No reason you can't succeed once you find the path to success. "Anyone who walks through our doors with a willingness to work there is a job out there for you," Thorson says.
Helping with resumes, clothes for the interview, how to ask for raise, a friendly push or a vote of confidence St. Joseph the Worker is ready to provide what's necessary to get someone working.
In Balderrama's case, it was bus passes so he could get to work, and purchasing his tools so he could go to work. "
It was the best thing that's happened to me," he said. "Cause honestly I don't know where I would be. I needed these tools man when I was out there in the field."
When he started out Balderrama lived in a halfway house and rode public transportation. Now he lives in an apartment, has a car, and more importantly a career.
Like the faces in the mosaic on the wall at St. Joseph the Worker, Justino Balderrama is a success story.
"A job can equal getting out of poverty," Katie Thorson says, "A paycheck is the only way out of poverty and that crisis mode. Like Justino, and he proves that a job did that for him."
In the last year, St. Joseph the Worker has helped nearly 4,000 people find employment. 70% of those jobs offer benefits.