Joe Santino is overjoyed with his job as a weatherization installer and crew boss in southeastern Idaho not only because he finally has a way to pay his bills, but because he’s helping people who find themselves in situations similar to the one he was in not too long ago.
Joe was laid off from his construction job — an industry in which he has 30 years of experience — just before Christmas in 2008. He says he put out hundreds of job applications through the Internet, local job services, in response to newspaper ads and via word-of-mouth searching. After three months, he had exhausted all of his savings, and his wife’s job didn’t pay enough to cover all of the expenses for Joe’s family, which includes two of his four children who still live at home.
After trying his luck with a temp agency, Joe finally heard about Southeastern Idaho Community Action Agency’s opening for a weatherization worker.
“It involves doing mostly things I had done before, so I applied and got the job,” he said. “I was stoked about it because it gave me a job, and I could start paying bills.”
People are very appreciative of the work Joe’s crew does to make their homes more energy-efficient, and he says some recipients just cry and hug them for helping keep their homes warm and helping them lower their energy bills.
“If I hadn’t found work, well … this job, it saved my life, my family, my house,” Joe said.
A year ago, Joe had trouble paying his energy bills. Now, he helps people who often need assistance paying theirs.
“People going through what I went through can receive help from making their homes energy-efficient,” he said. “There is always another chance out there, so I tell them to never give up hope.”
SEICAA received $1.7 million in stimulus funding for weatherization under the Recovery Act through March 2011.