Seven graduates of the June 2019 LA Valley College Metro Training Academy program pose with their certification awards
Seven graduates celebrated their graduation from the Los Angeles Valley College Bus Operations Training Academy Thursday June 27, 2019.

EWDD provides funding for the 70-hour training program, which helps job seekers become bus drivers for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro). For several graduates, the program represented an opportunity to start over after losing long-held jobs.

“It was life-saving,” said Kim Reese, 53, who credited the program with lifting her out of a deep depression after losing a job in mental health care that she had held for 15 years. “The way that I was feeling, there was no light anywhere,” she said. “It gave me something to want, to be a part of. It gave me hope.”

The program also arrived just in time for the couple, said Kim’s wife Theresa Fair, as they were struggling with paying bills and taking care of Theresa’s elderly mother, who has Alzheimer’s.

“I’m grateful it was available, especially when she had the primary income. We were on the brink of homelessness,” Theresa said.

The program also represented a second chance for Raymond Garcia, 52, who lost a truck service company he had owned for 22 years. Finding the training academy gave Raymond a pathway to a stable career with health insurance and benefits, a necessity since Raymond’s wife has multiple sclerosis.

“My thinking was to move up, have retirement, have a pension, to have a foundation,” Raymond said. “I’m comfortable driving the bus. I like being outdoors. There’s a lot of room to grow.”

Raymond’s wife Gloria added that the program boosted Raymond’s self-confidence. “This program gives them an opportunity, gives them the encouragement and self-esteem to build themselves up, go forward and get a job,” she said.

Learn about the various programs and benefits offered through EWDD Employment Services and WorkSource Centers.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of July 1, 2019. Read this issue and more.