Nothing Shines Better Than Success


John Butler

When I found out about NLMG through Opportunities for Employment, I instantly wanted to apply. I had done some work in the past with a stucco company, and I liked working with my hands. I had heard that a hundred people applied, but only 15 would be accepted. I didn’t think I’d get in because of my history with drugs, alcohol, and spending time behind bars. I felt very lucky when I found out I was accepted.

While I was in jail, I had taken some classes, but hands-on learning at NLMG is different because the construction site is your classroom. Learning a new skill can be tough if you haven’t done anything like it before, but my mentor Les is patient and explains things really well.

NLMG has made a huge difference in my life. I love the work because it’s always something different every day. I feel good about what I’m doing, and it keeps me out of trouble. I’ve been able to develop trusting relationships with my mentor and fellow participants, which is something that’s been hard for me to do in the past. I’m looking forward to getting my apprenticeship hours because having that certification is something no one can take away from me. My dream job would be to work for a large construction firm like PCL. It’s great to have a goal that I feel I can realistically achieve. 


Dan Swaigen

Before I got into NLMG, I was feeling very discouraged. Despite having several years of warehouse experience, I couldn’t find work. I had more than 15 interviews for jobs, but because of my criminal record all I got back were rejection letters that started with the word “unfortunately.” When I applied to the program, I laid out everything about my background, my incarceration, and struggles with alcohol. Getting accepted was a real privilege because every day I would see the waiting room full at Opportunities for Employment.

I’m still learning the ins and outs of carpentry and general labour, but so far it’s been great. One of the things I’m really proud of is figuring out how to do all the measuring for a project so that everything fits together properly. It took some time, but it proved to me that as long as I apply myself and pay attention, it can happen.

The best thing for me about NLMG is that it has given me structure. My life is better because I’m never bored and I’m tired at the end of the day. It feels good to build things that are useful—to accomplish something. I haven’t felt that in years.

I feel like the sky’s the limit now. Someday, I hope to own my own home. I’m working towards that big goal by paying my bills and getting out of debt. I have some things to clear up regarding my criminal record and NLMG is helping with that. I’m feeling hopeful.