Bensonhurst locals are a colorful bunch. It’s time someone took notice. This is us, taking notice.
Miguel Vega is a young dad living in Bensonhurst. For a while, he was struggling professionally, like a lot of other people his age. In fact, 45 percent of 16- to 25-year-olds are unemployed. Vega was part of that statistic.
After being laid off and working a dead end job, he realized that something had to change so that he could provide adequate care for his son and be a good example to his community. While his friends continued to struggle because of the recession, Vega changes careers for something more stable.
He wanted to share his story so that other people who feel lost because of unemployment become inspired to find joy and success in a position that they may not have previously considered.
Bensonhurst Bean: Tell me about yourself. Where are you from?
Miguel Vega: I’m 30 years old, born in the Bronx and moved to Brooklyn 12 years ago. I have a 4-year-old boy.
BB: What do you like best about living in Bensonhurst?
MV: The variety of places to eat at, such as the infamous L&B Spumoni Garden and John’s Deli!
BB: What kind of impact did the recession have on your life?
MV: I had gotten laid off and had to collect unemployment benefits for about a year before I found my next job. I didn’t particularly care for that job, but work was work and I needed to pay the bills.
BB: How did you turn your situation around?
MV: I found a non-profit organization online called Brooklyn Workforce Innovations which offer a variety of different training programs for people who are unemployed or earn a low income. The program I selected was Red Hook on the Road. This program offers free training to acquire a Class B Commercial Driver’s License. They have a very dedicated staff that are knowledgeable and professional. They work tirelessly in making sure that you are successful in completing the course and have an excellent job placement rating.
BB: Do you see others struggling with finding and maintaining employment? Any examples?
MV: In the class cycle I was in, there were at least 35 people who were all struggling looking for work. Most were laid off from their previous jobs and others were tired of working different odd jobs and wanted a steady career path.
BB: What do you currently do professionally? Do you enjoy it?
MV: I now work as a commercial driver for a company called Eastern Effects. They rent out a vast amount of lighting and grip equipment to media production companies for different events, such as movie and TV shoots, music videos and et cetera. I deliver the equipment to various sites and studios mostly in the city and the other boroughs, and some around the tri-state area. They have been an amazing company to work for and I enjoy it very much.
BB: What advice can you offer those, with or without college degrees, who are having a hard time finding work in today’s slow economy?
MV: Take the opportunity to research some of these organizations such as BWI and take advantage of the free services they provide. It may not be what you have desired to do primarily, but you can develop a new skill for free and find a good paying job, which is pretty hard to do these days.
BB: What changes do you think our city could make to better prepare young people or people who want to change careers for gainful employment?
MV: The city could help better fund some of these non-profit organizations such as BWI. Although they do get some type of government funding, they rely on donations from communities, alumni and other private funding which is hard to work for.
BB: What do you see yourself doing in five years?
MV: I’m not sure where I’ll be working in five years, but I know I’ll be on the road.
If you are someone or know someone who has a great story to tell, e-mail lvladimirova [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com.