City partnership gives deaf young adults opportunity to gain work experience

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It is a community that often struggles to find employment.

This summer, a partnership between the City of Albuquerque and a local youth organization is expanding work opportunities for young adults who are deaf.

“I really enjoy working out here in this environment,” said Gabriel Gonzalez, through an American Sign Language interpreter. He also said he has a new appreciation for the outdoors.

“I think it’s very rewarding.”

Gonzalez has been working with a crew from the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps to build a new trail in the East Mountains, which is part of the city’s open space division.

“A lot of people think a deaf person couldn’t be out here doing this kind of work,” Gonzalez said, adding he is proof that is not true.

“The deaf community has a lot of struggles. They have really high unemployment rates as adults,” Jordan Stone explained.

Stone is with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and works with young adults, teaching them the skills they need to land a job.

For a second year the organization has teamed up with Albuquerque’s Open Space Division bringing together work crews for a variety of projects.

“I did have frustrations with communication,” Gonzalez expressed. His crew happens to include people who are deaf or hard of hearing – but not all.

He calls this is a learning experience for everyone involved, not just him.

“Like with the people I work with, now they’re really making an effort to use sign language or just to gesture with me or to write back and forth and some people are really up to the challenge and that makes me feel good,” Gonzalez said.

He explained that communication gets a little bit easier, one step at a time.

“We’ve provided a job opportunity for these kids giving them the same opportunity as any other kid,” Stone said.

“Deaf people can do whatever they want. If they want to work in anything, they can do it,” Gonzalez said.

His crew will complete about three-quarters of a new trail. They have another week of work to go.

The goal for Rocky Mountain Youth Corps is to help participant find full time work.