FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) presented a $3 million check to the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board to support its ValleyBuild construction program Wednesday.

Recipients include a ValleyBuild NOW (Non-traditional Occupations for Women) pre-apprenticeship training program for women that recently completed its first cohort.

“Being here in the Central Valley, we need to be building now. It’s exciting that ValleyBuild actually has a program looking towards making sure we address the barriers for women explicitly,” says Assemblymember Arambula.

The program provides paid work experience for people who are awaiting completion of required testing — acceptance into building trade apprenticeships or being hired by a contractor.

“The main goal of the program is to get people to register into apprenticeships with the building trades,” says senior project coordinator Ashley Matthews.

Crystal Wiggins, a former apprentice in the program, says Valleybuild helped her get back on her feet.

“I’m the only supporter for my household so it’s a big thing for me to be able to give up my for sure check for the unknown. The program helped me get through that,” says Wiggins.

For Sarai Ayala, she wanted to expand her knowledge in different trades.

“It just broadened by view and the possibilities are endless, you can decide what you want to be and you can do it,” says Ayala.