In 2001 Tanya Ridley was working as a receptionist in a dentist office. While she was thankful she had a job, she never felt like it was where she was supposed to be.
Then, after the tragedies of 9/11, Tanya saw the many opportunities to rebuild New York City. She wanted to take part in the rebuilding, but knew that wouldn’t happen sitting behind a desk. Without experience, she applied and was accepted into the pre-apprenticeship program at Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW). She entered the program knowing how to type and answer phones, but upon graduating 6 weeks later she acquired skills in painting, trim work, reading a floor plan and she even learned how to lift a 65 pound bucket of concrete without breaking a sweat. Like many of her females peers, Tanya was fearful of math, but in just six short weeks she understood more than she had mastered in all her years of schooling. Tanya credits her instructors and NEW social worker Linda Young, who provided her with the resources she needed to succeed.
Tanya completed the training program and graduated in the fall of 2007. In 2008 she was hired as a Metal Lather (building and installing metal framework for internal and external walls) with Local 46 Metallic Lathers and Reinforncing Ironworks Union. She has since held steady employment. On her first job as a Lather, working for Roger & Sons Concrete, Tanya completed her goal as she found herself reinforcing the foundation of Tower 4 at the World Trade Center. She is especially proud of the fact that for the first year of her apprenticeship, she was the only female Lather on the project.
Robin Hood has been funding NEW since 1990 and it is because of success stories like Tanya’s that we’ve continued to support them with more than $7 million since that time.
Tanya continues her relationship with NEW as she now serves as a mentor to pre-apprentices in the program. Her motto is: “Good things come to those who work hard” and her hard work is definitely paying off.