Local program helps Welfare recipients find jobs in the trucking industry

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Economic Development Commission and private companies team up to match people looking for work with a high demand industry.

Truck driver Breanna Luna is ready for a haul across the Valley.

"It's pretty incredible getting in the truck and feeling so much power," said Luna.

She works at Lawson Rock and Oil in Fresno and is now in the driver's seat after passing a truck driver training program that takes people off welfare and to work.

The program was the brainchild of owner John Lawson and Leann Eager of the Economic Development Commission (EDC) after a chat about High-Speed Rail turned into the need for drivers. Lawson donated his land and time to create the program.

"When you've got the truck driving school on your property, you get your pick of the best ones in class," said Lawson.

The 240-hour class is taught by instructors.

"We take them out in traffic here out on the freeways, they learn the gear shifting. They learn the components of the truck, how to do a proper pre-trip, inspect their vehicle," said Glen Wills, truck driving instructor.

Since it started 2 and a half years ago, 138 people have been trained.
"Everybody that wants a job, can get a job. And in the welfare to work world, 82 percent is miraculous," said LeeAnn Eager, Fresno County EDC President, and CEO.

Pay for drivers can range from $15 dollars and go up. The program is free for those who qualify. For Luna, it's a dream come true.

"It was never that I didn't want to work, it was just that I never had the opportunity to do something that I wanted to do. So when it did arise, I went for it," said Luna.

The New Employment Opportunities (NEO) program pays for a new employees salary for the first three months and there's more compensation after that. The EDC is hoping to see more employers come on board.

"This is so huge we are going to start a second one. Our current one is in Southwest Fresno and our new one is going to be in Southeast Fresno. We're partnering with the Fairgrounds to have the training over there," said Eager.

A success story created here in the Valley.

Interested applicant must qualify as ready to work. You can contact social services-- for more info click here.
Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.