As each farmworker travels through life on his or her journey, they are faced with great uncertainty. Life as a farmworker is not so different from one farmworker to another. Hard work, low wages and not knowing when the work will end, are all daily concerns. This life is no different for Angela Ooten.
Angela grew up in Ohio, moving around often, later moving to Oklahoma. When she was able to work, she found that work was not easy to get. She took a job doing farm work, which she was no stranger to doing. There were not enough hours to make a decent living. The drought and land conditions had depleted the farm labor market. She tried to work at another farm but they weren’t hiring either. She continued to work a few hours a week at the low hourly rate of just $7.25 per hour, just barely making $5684.00 in the year 2018.
Angela heard about ORO from the staff at American Truck Driving School. She had decided that she wanted to learn skills to gain employment at a trucking company, working as a truck driver. She knew she had good public skills, and she was very familiar with tools and working with her hands. However, she needed to learn more driving skills and pre-trip duties, as well as basic truck functions. When Angela came to see me, I completed her Career Counseling and screening tools. I found her to be an excellent candidate for Classroom Training through our ORO office. Angela enrolled at American Truck Driving School, Lawton, Oklahoma, to become a Commercial Driver’s Licensed Truck Driver. ORO provided funds for training. After two weeks into her training, she received a stipend of $200.00. After she completed her certification, she was offered a position as a truck driver with Knight Transportation, which she gladly accepted. Angela’s wages are now $15.00 hour, and she works 40 hours a week. In comparison to farm work, Angela went from making $5684.00 a year, as a farmworker, to making $31,200.00 as a Commercial Driver’s Licensed Truck Driver. She enjoys her work, the working conditions and the stability of employment. In addition, her new employment brought an excellent benefits package.
Angela’s success story, as one can see, that being a farmworker is not a choice that many people make, it is a way to survive. A hope, that one day, there will be a better day. That hope, brought Angela to the path of ORO, that path restored her very hope.
Miami’s Success Story
Aorta Tachuo has been in the country since 2003 from the state of Chuuk, Federated State of Micronesia. She was referred to me by her brother who at that time was attending The Miami Academy’s Alternative School. At that time I was recruiting for a youth Work Experience Worker. Aorta had been working at J&M Mushroom Farm earning $8.50 an hour. She was unaware of ORO’s program at that time. I enrolled her into ORO’s Work Experience Worker program.
As a Work Experience Worker Aorta had the opportunity to learn various office skills such as answering phones, filing, processing following-ups on client’s employment status, computer skills and assisting both ORO clients and Center’s customers while in the Resource Room. Aorta was very helpful to OESC staff with the language barrier for Micronesian customers. While in ORO’s Work Experience program she was able to pick up her office skills quickly.
During her last months of her Work Experience Worker assignment her father became ill. Due to her father’s illness she had to drop out of the program to help care for him. Her plan was take him back home, but not long afterwards he passed away.
Aorta decided she wanted to attend Certified Nurse Aide training offered at the Northeast Tech Center in Afton. She was placed into Classroom Training for nurse aide training and was assisted with tuition and other training related services. She completed her training and was placed with Eastwood Manor in Commerce, earning $9.25 an hour as a Certified Nurse Aide.
She has also been referred to the Community Health Clinic of Northeast Oklahoma for a position with a new clinic that will be opening up in Commerce. I believe someone with Aorta’s clerical skills, Certified Nurse Aide training and bi-lingual skills would be an asset to any employer.