Finding Home

Dalton Young pulls up at today's job site in one of the City of Lemoore's maintenance work trucks. He's part of the crew that is hard at work leveling the ground at the city's sewer plant on the edge of town. As part of that crew, he's been at the controls of the excavator filling up a dump truck with the excess dirt that he will take to a part of the plant that needs filling. The storms that have hit the Valley recently have made this job a top priority. As part of the maintenance crew for the City of Lemoore, there are plenty of projects and cleanups to stay busy. From maintaining the city drains of leaf buildup to repairing water lines and laying cement, the unpredictability is one of the reasons Dalton Young loves his new job. But just a few months ago, Young was thrust into a whirlwind of uncertainty.

On November 15, 2018, Young's home was in the direct path of the destructive Camp Fire that burned wildly through Northern California and the town of Truckee. "I was truck driving, and I remember getting the call that we had to evacuate. I went home, and we packed the truck as best we could." Young said. "I got stuff I knew we'd needed like clothes and dishes. Everything there is now gone. Some people lost everything." Young estimates that he only had a total of 9 hours to get his family out from the time of the evacuation announcement. In that time, they had to figure out what stuff to take, who to notify, and, more importantly, where to go. "At the moment, I was scared," Young remembered. "I felt like I let my family down because, at the time, I didn't have any money saved up. I had my kids and my wife, and I thought to myself, what do I do? How do I take care of them? I know my wife understood the situation, but it was stressful." So then, Young and his family decided to move to Lemoore to be closer to his wife's parents. It was also decided that once they got there, they would hit the ground running to find a job so they could get a place of their own.

Five days into their job search, Young had found the Hanford Proteus, Inc. office. "When I went in there, I asked the lady at the desk if they had jobs available that I could apply for. I explained to her that I just moved out here from the fires," Young said. "From there, I filled out the paperwork, and about a week later, they called me that they had found a job for me." Along with being a truck driver, Young also worked on irrigation pumping systems in the farming areas around Truckee. His experience in irrigating allowed Guadalupe Cornell-Lopez, Proteus, Inc. Program Support Specialist to qualify Young for services through the Flood Storm program. The program is a temporary employment program funded by La Cooperativa Campesina de California. Its goal is to provide relief to Kings County residents and Kings County organizations. Proteus, Inc. provides temporary employment to eligible Kings County residents throughout this program. It places them at organizations that need help in cleanup efforts to avoid flooding following a devastating multi-year drought. In turn, employers receive free labor with the program paying the customers' wages and covering worker's compensation. As a result, Dalton Young has used the experience he already had to good use for the City of Lemoore.

He's also obtained some new skills and job duties that he never thought he would. It's a program that John Souza, City of Lemoore Utility Manager is grateful to be a part of. "There are a lot of jobs in the city that we'd like to get done, and sometimes we just don't have the extra labor to do it," Souza said. "This program has allowed us to have extra hands. It's very helpful plus it gives these people coming in the chance to learn new skills, making them more well-rounded and more hirable for more jobs. It's just an awesome program" Cornell-Lopez remembers overhearing Young tell her colleague how he was affected by the fires and just wanted a job so he could provide for his family. It tugged at her heart. "He was very thankful for the help that we gave him," Cornell-Lopez said. "I'm glad that I could help and put him in a position where he could provide for his family. For me, being able to say I was able to help somebody who needs it makes me happy." It wasn't too long ago that Dalton Young had to uproot his family and flee a raging fire in an instant. He didn't know what the future held, but one thing he was sure of, he was glad that they chose to move to Lemoore and walk into that Hanford Proteus office. "I honestly didn't think there was a program out there like Proteus," Young said. "It changes people's lives. I know my life will be changed big time if the city hires me because this is a retirement job with good benefits. I put my faith and trust in God, and now I feel so blessed." Dalton Young has enjoyed his time working for the City of Lemoore. He hopes to be hired by them when he finishes his program.

For information on how to see if you qualify for the Flood Storm Program or a business in Kings County that wants to participate in this program, call our Hanford Proteus Office at 559-582-9253.

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