By Ken Epstein
A few years ago, people may have thought Marc Calloway, 25, was down for the count. He had some conflicts with his parents, which ended up with him spending three months in San Rita Jail.
Now, with the help of a reentry program and job training paid by federal funding, he has a job that pays him well, and he is helping to support his hospitalized mother and his four brothers and sisters.
“I feel blessed,” he said. It’s been one thing after another. I have had a lot of hard times. I was working at a restaurant making $40 a day, and now I’m making $40 an hour.”
With the support of America Works in Oakland, Calloway first attended a wild lands fire fighter intern program run by the East Bay Conservation Corps.
Then, Breaking Through Barriers, a program of the Oakland Private Industry Council, arranged for him to receive a federal voucher to pay for a 40-hour hazardous materials training course. As a result of this course, he qualified for a high paying job working with hazardous materials.
“With that company, I’ve worked at Lake Shasta, Redding, and we may be going to San Jose and Woodland,” he said. “I’m new to construction, but I’m learning to operate heavy machinery.”
A graduate of Skyline High School in Oakland, he has taken classes at Laney and Merritt Colleges. Eventually, he wants to have his own company, promoting small businesses and big corporations.
Calloway has never been someone who has shied away from hard work. “In high school, I was volunteering at the YMCA, an after school program for kids,” he said. “During the summer, I was working at Great America and Arroyo Viejo Recreation Center. I’ve always been working.”
His father died about year ago, and his mother is hospitalized following a heart attack. “I have four brothers and sisters,” he said, “and now I take care of them.”
A realist, Calloway still expects a few more obstacles to come his way. “Sometimes, it’s been discouraging, but pretty much everything is coming together,” he said. “Things are looking up.”