SNAP – Welding – Athens

Originally from Colombia, Javier Gongora immigrated to Georgia in December 2019. He came to Goodwill’s Athens Career Center in February 2020, interested in the welding program. With 10 years of stick welding experience, Javier wanted to get certified in MIG welding, as this method is more commonly used in the US. When he enrolled at Goodwill, he did not have his driver’s license, so he was relying on his wife to provide transportation.

Before beginning the welding curriculum, Javier participated in Retail Customer Service training thanks to funding available through SNAP E&T. Due to his limited English, he had difficulty comprehending verbal instructions. Job Coach Jamie Parrott observed that Javier was a visual learner and did very well when he was shown what to do. Javier completed all tasks assigned and exceeded expectations by exceptional attention to detail and organizational skills. Jamie also worked with the Athens team to secure a translator for Javier.

When the welding class began in late March, Javier immediately distinguished himself as among the most outstanding participants the program has seen. His welding experience served him well, but it was his work ethic that truly stood out. By mid-April, he took and passed the welding exam – before the program was officially completed.

In early May, Javier was assigned to work with Employment Specialist Sylvica Lewis, who helped to arrange several interviews. Unfortunately, his transportation challenges prevented him from getting to some of these interviews. In mid-June, Javier interviewed at Kubota and was offered a position as a welder in the bucket shop department. He started his new role on June 22 and recently marked nine months with the company. Javier shares that he enjoys his job and is learning many new things.

By late July, Javier also obtained his driver’s license. The Goodwill team played a critical part in this achievement, as Javier faced some obstacles due to his vehicle not being registered.

Gainfully employed and with the sense of independence that comes from access to transportation, Javier is on the pathway to prosperity. His Goodwill family is proud to have been a part of his journey.