Lea la historia en inglés: www.friendsofelsol.org/el-sol-101-ismael
Israel, 31, studied criminal law and earned a master’s degree in his native Mexico. But lack of public safety, he said, drove him to follow his in-laws to Jupiter. They helped him secure work in the laundry room of a hotel.
“In this country, if you don’t work, you don’t get ahead,” he said.
Israel left behind his wife and two children, so he is working as much as possible to send money back. Some weeks at the hotel are better than others, he said, depending on reservations. Focused on his goals, he registered as a day laborer at El Sol to augment his income.
In Mexico, a factory worker can expect to make about 700 pesos, or $40 per week, Israel said. Registering in El Sol’s labor program, he has found daily work at least every other day he has signed in.
Most recently, he accepted an opportunity for eight hours of landscaping and moving work for a local resident. That morning, Israel also participated in El Sol 101.
Led by Ismael, the center’s worker development coordinator, the one-hour orientation covers El Sol’s history, its code of conduct, its programs and educational opportunities, and what is required from each day laborer.
Men and women registered in the center’s day labor program must complete an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace safety course. They are also required to commit to English classes if they can’t prove proficiency.
Community service every six months is also a requirement for men and women registered in El Sol’s labor program. Ismael emphasized the importance of that requirement toward maintaining the support of the Town of Jupiter and its residents.
Israel said he appreciated the orientation, and that the center’s rules are fair and clear. Seven others joined him for El Sol 101. Two men indicated they were new to the center, while a few others said they have been around for most of its history.
Carmen sat next to her 5-year-old son. She returned to Jupiter in the last year, after spending a few years back in the village of La Mesilla, in the Department of Huehuetenango, Guatemala. She said she is looking forward to enrolling in English classes at El Sol in 2018.
She currently works about three days per week as a housekeeper, and she credits the center for helping her meet her clients.
“I’ve done very well,” Carmen said.
Story and photos by Andres David Lopez