To Me, It’s All About Paying It Forward
I can’t really put into words how much growing up here on the east side of Binghamton impacted my life.
I was a very active kid. I loved to play sports, from football to baseball to east side youth association to little league; you name it, and I played it. What I remember the most is how helpful all the parents were, from coaching our teams to serving hot dogs, they did it all. This community was so supportive. We had picnics and got together all the time. It was all this love and support that made my childhood a very happy and stable one.
As I finished high school, I chose to stay in Broome. My goal was to raise kids here and give them the same childhood experience I had. So, I followed my father and uncle’s footsteps as a machinist. But by the time I was twenty-six, I got married and wanted to pursue a new trade. I thought, why not apply for an apprenticeship with the Laborers Local 785? I was excited to join as a journeyman working on the pipeline. Funny enough, my first job was to install the electronic smart boards on all of the city’s schools and I felt like, in a weird way, I was giving back to a time in my life where I felt truly happy and fulfilled.
Working for the Laborers Local 785 was a new chapter in my life. I wanted to give one hundred percent in everything I did there. I offered my support to them to speak up, participate in rallies—basically, I dove in headfirst. I also used this opportunity to get as many certifications as possible. I was excited to be part of the union and grow as a true asset to the organization.
By the time I was 29, I bought a house on the east side. That was another amazing goal I achieved. And the next milestone, was when I got promoted by the New York State Laborers Organizing Fund from concrete pourer to regional organizer literally overnight! One day I was covered in dirt and the next, I walked in with a button-down shirt and slacks. I succeeded farther than I ever thought I would. That was a proud moment for me.
Now having a family of six—a 20 year old son who is currently in the Laborers Local 785 Apprenticeship Program, two beautiful daughters who are 15 and 13 years old, and my youngest son who is 11—I wanted to give back to the community that gave me so much. I believe in paying it forward and giving back. So after work, I’m really busy with coaching football and softball, something that I again followed in my father’s example who is still coaching the boys basketball team at St. James ‘to this day. I’m also creating and pushing apprenticeship programs to show kids that college is not the only way to succeed; there is a lot you can do and excel at as a tradesman. There are so many opportunities here to live, work, and be happy and I want people to experience that. I’m committed to giving back to the kids, giving them healthy recreation, allowing them not to grow up too fast—to just enjoy being kids—and helping them discover a trade they might love.
As I look at my life now, I see the life I envisioned here in Broome—a life full of fun, giving back, opportunity, watching my kids enjoy a childhood that brought me so much joy and shaped me into who I’ve become.