The Storehouse of Collin County announced a new job partnership program today that builds on its current pathway program.
“Based on an innovative and proprietary Work Well Methodology, The Storehouse is working with neighbors on their journeys into employment,” The Storehouse said in a press release. “The program is designed to provide neighbors with a living wage, full benefits and a path to transformation while providing the employer with a base of pre-vetted employees who are ready to work.”
The first partner in the program is Lux Ice, a company that recently relocated to Flower Mound partly in due to the partnership.
“Our partnership with The Storehouse has exceeded our expectations and has by far provided the most talented labor force any of us have seen in our careers,” said Mark Rogers, partner and managing member, Lux Ice, and a PepsiCo alum. “They are trying to better themselves and become accustomed to working in the U.S. While most companies are looking at how they can retain workers, we are working with each neighbor to help them advance and move back into their previous careers. Hopefully in three to five years they can be back doing what they did in their home countries. Lux makes its partnership with The Storehouse central to our mission: to transform lives.”
Today, 25 individuals are employed by Lux Ice. Each of them are English as a Second Language (ESL) at The Academy, an educational program launched by The Storehouse in 2022, and are receiving a living wage and full benefits. The program aims to continue including more neighbors, with 14 in the queue to work at Lux and the goal to place 100 neighbors with job partners by the end of the fiscal year in June.
Each of the participants are immigrants from Latin America who left their professions behind in search of a better life in the U.S. One of these is Andres Tovar.
Andres brought his wife and children, ages 14 and 18, to the area in October 2019. Though Tovar was a systems engineer in Venezuela, the language barrier he experienced in the United States limited his ability to take well-paying jobs.
“It was difficult to start over in the U.S. since we faced language barriers. We started in a small one-bedroom apartment, where we shared one bathroom. Little by little we adjusted to our new lifestyle. I got a job as a janitor working the night shift, and Marlene worked in a warehouse,” Andres said. “Then the pandemic hit. Three months after we arrived, I had to get another job because the private Christian school where I worked closed due to the pandemic. We were unemployed for almost three months until I was able to get a job at another warehouse. Thankfully, The Storehouse helped our family tremendously during these three months, and we were able to put food on the table for my children every day.”
Andres and his wife Marlene got involved with The Storehouse when he started coming on Saturdays to get food for his family. As a regular at The Storehouse, he used his friendship with the employees to suggest ESL classes, and became part of the first class when they started up in 2022.
Now, Tovar is employed with Lux, where his family has had the opportunity to get closer to the careers they loved in Venezuela.
“While in Venezuela, baking was my passion,” said Marlene. “I dedicated myself to baking and taught classes for future pastry chefs. When we arrived here and found ourselves out of work, I had the idea I could use my skills to supplement our income, and that is how our company, Cachitos Bakery, started. Local customers started coming to me for orders, but I could not serve them well because I didn’t speak English. Because of the opportunity to learn English at The Storehouse, I can now better understand my American customers.”
Andres and Marlene just began the fall semester of The Academy’s ESL classes, alongside 167 other students. The classes, held on Saturday mornings for 12 weeks, fill up quickly each semester with a waiting list because neighbors understand that learning English is the key to their success in the U.S.
“My parents are hard-working people that chase their dreams and inspire others to do so,” said Andrea Tovar. “It is exciting to see them finally happy, financially stable, and find their true passions. At my high school graduation, I dedicated a special message on the top of my cap which said, ‘Para mis padres, que llegaron sin nada y me lo dieron todo,’ which means, ‘for my parents that came here with nothing. And they gave me everything.’”
Lux Ice is projected to employ up to 100 neighbors in living-wage jobs by the end of 2024, while The Storehouse works to establish new job partners with additional companies.