Life altering. Norm shattering. Paradigm exploding. Many people live rewarding lives filled with happy, little and big events. For others, like Wind River Job Corps student Jacob Loomis, it was one, big mind-blowing change that pulled his life journey off to a whole new track.
That would be the birth of his daughter.
Life can be complicated, and sometimes messy.
Jacob came to Wind River Job Corps in 2015, as one if the first students in the brand-new center in Riverton. But within 6 months he was out. It was love that took him off course, thinking he’d met a potentially life-long partner in Riverton. His soon-to-be wife was also a soon-to-be Job Corps grad. She finished her training, he did not.
He instead went to work, preparing for a life that could support his soon-to-be first child.
In time, the couple moved from Riverton to Colorado, where they would have extended family support, and where his wife was able to get a job in her trade. But not before a healthy, happy BrookLynn Joy was born in 2017.
That’s when everything changed for Jacob.
Prior to coming to Job Corps, Jacob was homeless and had been struggling with drug addiction. Multiple attempts to beat the addiction back found only temporary success. Its hard to make a choice between “this” – a drug experience, and “that” when you don’t have a clear picture of what “that” might be.
With the birth of BrookLynn, “that” became enormously clear – both the joy and the responsibility. Becoming a parent changed everything for Jacob.
And that’s when Jacob deciding to give Job Corps another “go.” He’d stayed in touch with other classmates. He knew they were making six-figure incomes. He knew what he left behind and he knew he wanted to change his future into one that would provide the kind of stable lifestyle his daughter deserves.
There were some difficult days. The marriage did not last, although both mother and father get along better as co-parents today. And making a decision to renew his training efforts would mean leaving his daughter behind for months at a time.
Jacob returned to Job Corps in 2019 and entered the Heavy Equipment Operator program. His father had been in the heavy equipment industry, so he’d been around these “big boys” most of his life. He has a healthy respect for safety, but says the job “feels like play” likening it to his days as a child in the sand pit.
Upon his return, he reconnected with his previous instructors, Scott Belschner and Roy Smith, who had always been supportive and welcomed Jacob back. This was a journey they were happy to help him along.
Jacob’s “that” was his motivator, as he recently graduated from Job Corps as a double trade student. His first certification is as a Heavy Equipment Operator, with a second certification as a Heavy Truck Driver. He recently attained his commercial driver’s license that will allow him to drive both Class A and Class B trucks.
What lays ahead
Jacob is expected to join a 3-year apprenticeship with the International Order of Operating Engineers, with training taking place in the Denver area. His Job Corps certification has provided credit for his first year of apprenticeship, as well as made him eligible for a higher wage. Typically, a construction apprentice in his position will make about $60,000 in the first years, moving closer to $100,000 within 5 years. Jacob’s commercial drivers license will make him a stronger hire, and provide additional construction opportunities as an operator, but it also provides a “plan B” in the event of economic changes.
For now, what 4-year old BrookLynn knows is, “Daddy is coming home.”