“I feel very grateful for this wonderful organization. The hard working and dedicated [staff] understood my needs and had a plan for success for me. They were always happy to help. I am a proud SER alumni.”
Fabian Toledo left Colombia in 2004 in search of the American Dream. Before finding SER, he was working 2-3 minimum wage jobs to make ends meet, but when the U.S. recession hit, and he was laid off, he realized his lack of skills was holding him back.
“I went to SER because I was unemployed and it was a perfect solution for me because I couldn’t afford college tuition and I couldn’t find a decent job,” said Fabian. “My first course was Core construction, which gave me an overall good knowledge in good construction practices and safety. I really enjoyed it so I went on to the next class, Weatherization, which was really comprehensive.”
During training, Fabian was connected with Parr Inspections, which deploys inspectors across the U.S. after presidentially declared natural disasters and is contracted by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“With the knowledge and confidence gained during my SER training, I applied for a Residential Inspector position and was accepted,” said Fabian. “I have been working for a few years now all over the country, and I absolutely love my work - I get to travel, use my new skills, and help people during their hardship after disasters.”
“With the money I saved, I bought a house in desperate need of repair, as an investment, and using my SER skills, I remodeled this house and today it’s producing rent income and is paid for.”
This rental income was enough to pay Fabian’s tuition to attend the University of Houston Downtown, where he completed his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in International Politics.
“I’m still contracting for FEMA [now under Vanguard Emergency Management], but I am doing quality control on the inspections, which is better paid! And I’m still buying more properties – I buy, fix, and rent them out,” said Fabian. “The SER classes were fundamental to understand all the construction terminology – it’s already hard enough in Spanish, so with the classes I was able to apply for the job and get the training right away. But SER not only provided me with education, SER provided me with friendship – I still have connections with the SER community.”
Eventually Fabian wants to work as an ambassador or for an embassy – a goal he never would have even considered before finding new opportunities at SER.
“I feel very grateful for this wonderful organization,” said Fabian. “The hard working and dedicated [staff] who understood my needs and had a plan for success for me. The staff was always happy to help. I am a proud SER alumni.”