When the American Chocolate Factory closed its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, delivery man and merchandiser Joseph Candoleta became unemployed at 37 with five kids to feed and provide for. As many other businesses also had to shut their doors, a new job seemed unattainable.
“I needed to find work fast and thankfully I saw on the news about the dislocated worker program. I sent in my resume right away and got a phone call,” Candoleta said.
In early September Guam Department of Labor announced temporary job openings for clean-up efforts related to COVID-19, funded by the National Dislocated Worker Grant program designed to help people get back on their feet if they were laid off or furloughed as a direct result of the virus.
“As soon as we pressed out that we were looking for maintenance workers and housekeepers to help sanitize, my inbox filled up with people wanting to apply,” said project manager Catrina Contreras. “It’s a reminder of how our community can come together during a crisis and work toward a solution.”
For Cianna Salonga, 22, and Chrissy Nangauta, 31, it was a Facebook post that led them to the American Job Center where they were also hired on to sanitize quarantine sites, homeless shelters and isolation centers. All three said they had the same purpose for applying for these frontline positions — to help the island overcome the pandemic.
“I saw that the cases were rising every day, and I was just staying at home following the stay-at-home orders, when I just wanted to find something or some way to help get the island back to normal,” Nangauta said.
They agree this work can be a bit scary but after receiving training from Guam Homeland Security and further hands-on training with the environmental services department at Guam Memorial Hospital, they feel secure knowing how to safeguard themselves by properly wearing their protective equipment.
“The one that got all of us was the fit test for the N95 mask,” said Nangauta. Prior to the pandemic, she worked janitorial services at the United Club Lounge. “This one is so different. I’m thankful to the Department of Labor for giving me this opportunity to help out with the COVID situation.”
A daily routine for the maintenance workers include putting on all of their Personal Protective Equipment properly and decontaminating rooms where a COVID-19 patient had been quarantined or isolated. They wipe down and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects such as counters, chairs, and doorknobs to ready the room for the next patient.
“It’s really busy and it’s a challenge, but it’s great working with the GMH staff. They really know what they’re doing. We’ve only been here a short time and we’ve learned so much. It’s an honor to work with them. I thank Miss Patsy Acfalle and her environmental staff. They taught us right,” Candoleta said.
The maintenance team said learning a new trade and upskilling themselves is just one of the many rewards of the program.
“The best part for me is coming home at the end of the day feeling relieved that I was able to do something good for the community and help contain this virus. The work we do is something that can help us get in front of the situation and stop the pandemic,” Candoleta added.
“The best part for me is meeting new people, learning new things and being able to help out. I’m grateful for this opportunity to help our community strive during this pandemic,” said Salonga who previously worked as a receptionist at the Mariacy Beauty Academy. The team is currently stationed at GMH but will soon rotate between quarantine, isolation, and homeless shelters.
“With this grant, we’ve been able to employ 134 dislocated workers who are now actively working to fight the pandemic,” said Department of Labor Director David Dell’Isola. “Some of our participants have even found permanent employment through the program which is one of the goals. This grant gives dislocated workers a chance to learn a new skill set, earn money, and take care of their families.”
The program is still looking to fill temporary positions.
To apply, register on hireguam.com and upload your resume. Then send an email to email@example.com with your full name, contact information and the position in which you are interested.
Priority is given to individuals who meet the criteria below:
● Laid off as a result of a quarantine, because they miss work to care for a family member, or because they cannot come to their regular workplace in order to follow social distancing requirements; and
● Workers laid off after a business closure related to disruptions caused by the outbreak and the efforts to contain it.
● A self-employed worker who became unemployed or significantly under-employed as a result of the disaster or emergency.
● Start by registering on hireguam.com and uploading your resume.
● Next email firstname.lastname@example.org.