PRESQUE ISLE, Maine - “I’m tired of being laid off and constantly looking for work. I want to be in charge of my own future.” This is the feeling of Daniel Anderson of Fort Kent and the reason he is now enrolled at NMCC.
Anderson was a millwright at Evergreen Manufacturing in Madawaska. It was a job he loved and it paid him well enough for him to take care of himself and his two young children. But around Christmas of last year, employees were notified that layoffs would begin in March. Anderson’s wife, Chantelle, also worked for Evergreen in the packaging area preparing perfume bottles for shipping. The family’s entire livelihood was suddenly in question.
“This made for some pretty long discussions in January. We had plans to buy my parent’s home but that had to be put on hold,” explains Chantelle. “We don’t want to leave this area because both sides of the family live here and it’s a great place to raise our kids. But there is little work opportunity in Daniel’s field north of Bangor that pays what he was earning.”
Fortunately, another opportunity was available to the Andersons through the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program which helps fund job retraining. When a business is deemed trade certified and it experiences mass layoffs or a closure, TAA steps in. The program can pay for tuition, books, fees, any required tools, and in some cases mileage to attend school for two years.
For Daniel, it was either go to school or move, but this break was too good to pass up. He and Chantelle started NMCC in late summer with the Smart Start program once a week, to brush up on math and to get a conditional acceptance at NM. They traveled 114 miles roundtrip and worked on homework together, and while it was a challenge with a two and five-year-old at home, they liked it.
“I’ve been a mechanic all my life and on more than one occasion, I’ve been laid off due to business closures,” says Daniel. “This time, I want to turn it around--find a need in the community and I’m going to try to fill it. That’s why I’m taking the Plumbing and Heating program. Chantelle is taking Business Administration so her skills will be in demand. We’re lucky that both of these programs are available at NM.”
“The TAA program is extraordinary—now we can show our children how hard we worked to get through College for all of us. We want to afford nice things for them and with a degree we’ll have more opportunities. We won’t have to live paycheck to paycheck,” says Chantelle.
“The free tutoring at NM is so helpful,” says Daniel. “I now have an important goal: I’m working toward a career. My dream is that during Career Day at school, my kids will say more than ‘my daddy is a laborer’…I want them to be proud.”
For more information on the TAA program, contact the Presque Isle Career Center at 760-6300.