Less than a year ago, Yirim Seck, 30, had no steady work and struggled to get by. Thanks to a nonprofit called Got Green, he's making $23 an hour installing home insulation.
Seattle-based Got Green formed three years ago to help low-income people get stimulus-funded weatherization work. Pay starts at $21 an hour, based on a scale created by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Seck only worked sporadically after completing a two-week training course. Then he and fellow trainees discovered that the State of Washington was using some of its $5 billion in stimulus funding to pay "volunteers" $8.55 an hour to perform weatherization work ("Stimulus jobs at minimum wage? State uses loophole," RC May 12-18, 2010).
Since then, Got Green has gotten its own stimulus grant of $230,000, founder Michael Woo said. It's used the money to provide two more training sessions for about 15 people each and lead two community forums on the future of green jobs.
Woo said 11 of the 13 people who completed a July training course got jobs. He said graduates of another training that ended March 18 are now qualified for jobs through Seattle's Community Power Works, a $20 million stimulus-funded project that will start April 19 and weatherize 2,000 homes in South Seattle.
Shortly after the article on Seck ran in Real Change, work picked up at EcoFab, a company that had employed him on and off. He's had a steady job since and, about six months ago, Seck became a journeyman insulator.