Job training and a federal work program help a father — and those he mentors — come out on top
"I'm hopefully making a difference, being patient and showing the kindness that was shown to me."
Being a father was the motivation Mitch needed to seek a steady career with a good income. Taking his responsibility as a parent seriously, he enrolled at the age of 42 in a 3-month Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Training program through the Seattle Vocational Institute, which provides participants with classroom instruction, hands-on skill building and certifications.
When Mitch completed the PACT training program, a door to his new career opened to him through a federal program known as Section 3, which supports employment opportunities in the trades for people with low incomes. In 2010, Mitch was hired by Andersen Construction through the Section 3 program to work on the Seattle Housing Authority’s Lake City Court redevelopment.
Mitch showed up every day, worked hard and paid close attention to his bosses on the job site. He worked his way up to a general foreman position with Andersen and continues to bring his strong work ethic to his leadership role on construction job sites. Mitch has worked on construction of four SHA residential buildings.
As a general foreman, Mitch hasn’t forgotten his early days in the construction trade. He now mentors new Section 3 apprentices when they first arrive on the job. “When they’re brand new like that and they just come on, I prefer for them to work here with me,” Mitch says. “I try to give them that help and let them know this is what you’ve got to do.”
Mitch knows firsthand the commitment it takes to build the skills needed to succeed in construction. “There’s a learning curve that anybody new that comes along has to experience and has to know and has to acknowledge. That takes a core group of people in a company that’s willing to work with you, and somewhat suffer through your growing pains to become a valuable member of the team.”
He conveys hope to the apprentices and tells them, “What you got here is an opportunity at a career. We are going to take our time with you, we’re going to help you.” He urges them to show up on time every day, pay attention and do what is asked of them. “It’s so much easier to just do what you are supposed to. It’s so much easier,” he counsels.
As part of taking them under his wing, Mitch drills into new workers how dangerous construction sites can be. “Safety is the most important thing no matter what,” He tells them. Mitch also advises not to bring personal feelings and issues to the jobsite, reassuring new hires, “If you work enough, a lot of your problems will go away anyway.”
Mitch knows it’s important to serve as a role model. He pushes others to constantly improve their construction skills and to rise up to opportunities that are presented each day. “Prepping yourself to do better, or to do more than you did the day before, you’re going to come out on top of the situation,” he says.
Mitch appreciates the chance his training, the Section 3 program and the company gave him. Of his special understanding and compassion for the apprentices, and the challenges they face, Mitch says, “I am hopefully making a difference, being patient and showing some of the same patience and kindness that was shown to me, by showing it to other ones that come along.”
This video was filmed before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Mitch and all his colleagues are currently following all construction safety protocols and directives.
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