Searching for an Opportunity and Discovering the Spanish Catholic Center

Categories: Feature

Many who immigrate to the United States embark on the journey to search for better job opportunities, a better life. This was the case for Melida Chacon. Originally from El Salvador, she immigrated to the United States in 1990 and landed in the Washington, D.C., area.

As Chacon settled into her new life in the United States, she worked for a cleaning company as a supervisor. With the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Chacon felt the ripple effects of what it meant to be an immigrant in the U.S. Despite having a work permit, Chacon found it increasingly difficult to find work, as requirements and screening became stricter. She knew she had to learn a new skill to expand her job prospects.

With an open mind and eagerness to learn, Chacon took a leap of faith to further expand her knowledge. While searching for a new career opportunity, she discovered the Spanish Catholic Center and the Green Construction Program. After meeting with Program Supervisor Celia Sterling, Chacon enrolled and became one of seven students in the inaugural Green Construction class.

Program staff took noticed of Chacon’s drive and work ethic. Shortly after graduating from the program, Chacon was offered a part-time role on the Green Construction team. Chacon spent her time teaching, tutoring in vocabulary and math, and planning curriculum.

The role continued to fuel her hunger to learn. Chacon decided to complete additional training. She has since become a certified instructor and joined the team full time. She teaches the NCCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) core curriculum construction program in English and Spanish.

For Chacon, the curriculum is just one part of the job. The ability to help others find success is what drives her, and it’s what she loves to do. She works tirelessly to help her students in the classroom and also helps them find resources such as transportation, food, and medical care.

Chacon works hard to understand students’ unique circumstances and provides guidance and compassion to help them see a better future for themselves and to believe that nothing is impossible with God on your side.

Her dedication to helping others find success is infectious. She loves to serve others and share the gifts that God provided her. Her journey reflects hard work, perseverance, and a deep abiding love for God. And at the end of the day, she empowers individuals in the community by teaching life skills and leadership.

The Spanish Catholic Center and its supporters will be celebrated during a Saturday, Oct. 19, gala at the Marriott Marquis in Washington. Click here to learn more.