8 years ago, Adam woke up one morning unable to move. A work place injury the day before resulted in a herniated and slipped disc in his spine and a pinched sciatic nerve.
Trained as a chef, Adam had taken time out of the kitchen to work in the construction industry. He didn’t expect that day on the job site to be any different. He has always been the sort of worker to stay busy, so when a co-worker asked for help lifting a wall section, he didn’t think anything of it. The section of wall they were charged with moving was 16 ft long, 8 feet tall, and had multiple windows and a few thick beams. They should have recruited at least 3 other people, but the job site was busier than normal that day and they were in a rush.
With their arms firmly under the wall, they lifted. Adam heard a pop and felt the pain, but worked through the day. It was raining on the job site, and they needed the extra help. The next morning he woke up in excruciating pain, unable to get out of bed. When he finally returned to work months later, he was laid off. He hasn’t been able to hold a full time job since.
“I didn’t think of the potential ramifications of working a job where I got paid under the table. I just needed to make money to support my family.”
Since that day, Adam has had persistent back problems and has had to pay for any and all health care out of pocket. He is unable to bend at the waist, can’t stand or sit for long periods of time, and can’t lift anything heavier than 25 pounds.
“I apply for jobs all the time, but once they hear about my health restrictions I can see they won’t hire me.”
As the sole provider for his family, the responsibility of feeding, clothing, and housing 5 people lies on his shoulders. He has pieced together jobs for many years, but can’t find anything that lasts for more than a few months. This year, while in-between jobs he landed in the Community Jobs Training Program.
“Trying to keep a roof over our head is hard when the cost of living keeps rising. This program is a life raft. It pays more than government assistance and allows me to stay busy and be a part of the community while I apply for jobs. I’m not sure we’d be able to keep our heads above water without Community Jobs Training Program.”
For the past few months, Adam has mixed paint and processed metal scraps for recycling. If you’ve noticed that staff are working more effectively these days, it’s in part because of Adam’s help. A small work space allows him the flexibility to stand or sit when he needs to, and a desk at elbow height means he doesn’t have to bend his back. As he works, he shares his dreams of returning to the food industry and owning his own barbeque catering business. He and his father used to run a food truck, and he smiles as he discusses his favorite recipes.
Not everyone that enters the Community Jobs Training Program is looking for a path to a new career. Some just need a life raft.
This year we’re participating in Giving Tuesday on December 3rd, a global day of giving fueled by social media and collaboration. We’re hoping to raise $1,500 to provide more life rafts for all those that need it.You can help build a more resilient Bellingham by donating $25 on Giving Tuesday via Facebook.
Can’t wait until Giving Tuesday? Donate today.