Fernando has made history at Pathlight HOME one of the first-ever employees of our Employment Center. Ever since the exciting and essential service opened in July 2020, this warm and experienced professional has helped lead the charge to provide job search resources to the community.
Fernando knew from his early career days in Homestead, Florida that he wanted to “help people have better lives.” In his position at Job Corps, that inner drive helped him create a partnership to further his young adult clients’ education. It then propelled him to opportunities at CareerSource South Florida, helping adults navigate the job pursuit process. Interestingly, Fernando then changed course. He went into law enforcement, until he realized, “I did more good helping with employment and education.” We’re sure glad of that!
Though a pandemic may not seem the best time to start a new nonprofit endeavor, Covid-19’s layoffs made job search assistance all the more crucial in our community. Thanks to Fernando’s knowledge and zeal, a generous Orange County grant, a plan and dream, and much staff commitment, the Pathlight HOME Employment Center was born. What started for Fernando as “a large empty room, a reception desk, and two computers” has grown to serve between 104 and 130 people per week, all distanced and masked for Covid protection. Computers, one-on-one help and a training room are available; and the list of services and trainings is extensive.
Fernando talks with pride about his team, our clients, the new partnerships with three corporations that provide intern experiences, and the “Shining Month” when 62 people got hired. He grins sheepishly when asked which Employment Center offering is his highlight and admits he’s partial to collaborating with our Pathlight Kitchen Culinary Training Program. There, he interviews and orients students and meets with them before each class to help with life skills needed for success.
Fernando says he likes that the students are excited about what they learn. We think what he REALLY likes are the delicious aromas coming from the kitchen and the cooking tips!