Jeff Humphrey, Media Content Coordinator, 509.625.6308
Tuesday, December 19, 2017 at 3:09 p.m.
It’s been a long climb for Melissa Halvorson. Three months ago the single parent mom didn’t know the difference between a scissor lift and scaffolding. Now, Halvorson is putting the finishing touches on Riverfront Park’s Looff Carrousel rotunda.
“It makes me feel great and I just love it. I really like this job. There’s still a lot for me to learn, but I’ve learned a lot and I enjoy it,” said Halvorson.
We first met Halvorson last October when she was enrolled in a class that teaches students what it takes to make a living in construction. Halvorson took the course hoping to shore up a better future for her family.
“I have three children and over the past decade I’ve been working in the business field or sales and no matter what I was doing, I could never get above the poverty level because I don’t have a bachelor’s degree,” Halvorson explained.
So Halvorson signed up for the “Head Start to the Construction Trades” training program. The free, six- week class teaches the basics about how to building things.
“We develop six areas… that’s physical, mental, emotional control, intuition, skills trades and then spirit. So an unconquerable spirit,” said Shawn Kingsbury, an instructor for Associated General Contractors.
That spirit led to Halvorson graduating from the Head Start program along with her fellow female students nicknamed “The Magnificent 7.”
When asked if she was impressed with the changes she has seen in her daughter Cari Chepoda said, “Absolutely. This has been an amazing six weeks. This class has been really fabulous. It has been quite a development.”
And now it’s time for Halvorson’s daughters to be impressed as well because “their” mom is helping to build a new Spokane landmark.
“She’s doing really good. Comes to work with a positive attitude. Really looking forward to learning every day. She’s getting along with everybody on the job,” said Rich Sherwood of Drywall Specialties.
It’s a job taping and mudding drywall but earning Halvorson the biggest paychecks of her life.
“I was really excited to raise my kids here in Spokane and then share Riverfront Park with them and the carrousel.
In fact, Halvorson has pictures of her daughters Malika and NatÂa on the carrousel years before the park’s current makeover.
Now, taking a ride on the Looff will be even more special for Halvorson’s family.
“Riverfront Park is pretty much the heart of Spokane, in my opinion. So I feel great to be a part of it and as long as this building stands, I can walk in here and look up and think of the things I’ve done here,” Halvorson said from her jobsite.
Because Head Start training helps put people to work, the program is supported by grants and donations from the City of Spokane.
The class has a 65 percent job placement rate and Halvorson is glad to be one of AGC’s graduates.