Valley Works: Fresno man happy to have a job

FRESNO, Calif. A Fresno man who didn't know if he would still be working this Christmas says he has many reasons to celebrate the season.

The last time we saw Willie Gray, he was just happy to have a job - happy to be one of the 800 temporary employees hired to work for the Big Fresno Fair.

"I am really appreciative and looking forward to coming back if they will allow me to," Gray said at the time.

Willie was hoping he'd make a good enough impression that he would be hired back next year.

He knew the possibility of staying on after the fair was a long shot.

"Honestly, I would have to say it's a 1 in 200 chance in staying on afterward," Fresno Fair Deputy Manager Lauri King said.

Gray somehow beat those odds because he is still there still working maintaining those grounds. When the fair ended its fourteen-day run Willie was asked to stay on four additional months.

He recently got some more good news from his supervisor.

"When a couple of weeks ago he got the ok to work me over for as long as he needed me, this all I really needed right there," Gray said.

Gray, who has been doing landscaping since he was a teenager, calls the job a blessing.

You have to understand where this 34-year-old father of four was before he attended that job fair back in August.

He had been without a job for a year and a half and said he was close to being homeless.

When he learned about the job fair he was so desperate to get there that he walked the estimated 16 miles from his home in Southwest Fresno.

"When it comes to finding work I would walk to Clovis if I had too," Gray said.

"He was just extremely positive and polished very professional and personable and he came very well prepared," King said.

Like many of today's job-seekers the work Willie found is not permanent, at least not yet and he is not working full-time, but that doesn't diminish Willie's passion and commitment to doing the best everyday.

"The time that they gave me to work here even the bonus like I'm doing now - I can't ask for a better supervisor, the co-workers. It makes me want to get up and come to work," Gray said.

Willie is very grateful this job has kept him working during the Christmas season - he knows what it's like not to have a job during the holidays.

"It gets real hard because you can't buy your kids anything, you can't buy your family nothing for me to have a job during this season is a blessing," Gray said.

For him, being able to provide for his family is what this job is all about.

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