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Santa Ana Nonprofit Receives $500,000 to Address Youth Unemployment

Over 300 residents converged at Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange in Orange, California on June 26 for an event awarding half a million dollars to a local nonprofit to help low-income youth gain access to job training services in Santa Ana.

The funding, which was part of nearly $30 million in federal funds Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) helped secure for community projects in his North Orange County district, will assist the Santa Ana-based nonprofit, Hope Builders, in aiding young adults in need with mentorship, life skills, and job skills training that meets the needs of employers.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Orange, who founded the Santa Ana-based nonprofit, hosted the ceremony at their Catholic school campus, as more than 40 students from its latest class graduated from the three-month training program.

Epoch Times Photo
Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) awards a $500,000 check to Hope Builders at a ceremony at Sisters of Saint Joseph in Orange, Calif., on June 26, 2023. (Carol Cassis/The Epoch Times)

“What you’ve done is nothing short of miracles,” Correa told the nonprofit during a speech.

According to Correa, the nonprofit had only asked him for $250,000 when they first approached his office three months prior to help them in their mission—however Correa doubled the amount in an effort to better support the program.

“You gotta reach deep inside of yourself and believe in yourself. Work hard, and you can accomplish your dreams,” Correa told the students being honored.

A son of working-class immigrants from Mexico, Correa expressed a sense of connection with the students and their families receiving assistance from Hope Builders.

“When I see the faces of [those receiving support from the nonprofit], I see my family 50 years ago,” Correa told The Epoch Times following the ceremony.

Epoch Times Photo
Hope Builders recent job training graduate Aldo Valadez after graduation and award ceremony at Sisters of Saint Joseph in Orange, Calif., on June 26, 2023. (Carol Cassis/The Epoch Times)

One of those who were honored by the nonprofit during the graduation was Aldo Valadez, 21, who found his path into carpentry through Hope Builders after dropping out of community college two years prior to joining the nonprofit program.

According to Valadez, he didn’t feel ready for college and lacked guidance in forging his future when he first enrolled in community college at 18. After dropping out, he went back to work at the same local restaurant where he was employed during high school.

“With Hope Builders, it felt like they really pushed me to have a better mindset,” Valadez told The Epoch Times. “Graduating from the program is something I’m really proud of. It really helped my communication skills and taught me accountability.”

Valadez now works full time as a carpenter for a local construction company, where he says he enjoys working with his hands and building large construction projects including apartment complexes and hotels.

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