Mario Edwards, a 30-year-old, African American man who lives in Lynwood with his wife and 3 young children (ages 12, 6 and 1), is dedicated to his family and doing whatever he needs to provide for them. A native of Los Angeles and a true survivor himself, Mario knows firsthand the importance of family having overcome a number of struggles early in life, including being shot multiple times while in his senior year at Dorsey High School. Pulling through, Mario resumed school at Los Angeles’ View Park High School, where he graduated and then shortly thereafter welcomed his first daughter into the world.
With a growing family to care for and determined to do all he could to provide, Mario worked for a number of years in a warehouse as a shipping and receiving clerk. He also did some housekeeping work to help make ends meet. So, when Mario’s Grandmother shared with him a flyer she had received from church with information about the Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) and a new U.S. Department of Labor Room Attendant/Housekeeping Apprenticeship Program they were launching, he decided to go check it out.
Ready for a change and looking for an opportunity to grow, Mario attended the HTA Program Orientation and decided this program was just the thing he was waiting for. He enrolled for services through the HTA’s South Los Angeles’ Grant Program with funding made available by the City of Los Angeles’ Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD), and, upon successfully completing an extensive interview and assessment process, was selected to be one of 13 participants chosen to take part in the 153-hour customized apprenticeship training that began in April 2018.
As part of the HTA Room Attendant Apprenticeship Program, Mario and his classmates learned firsthand from UNITE HERE Local 11 instructors, all of whom had extensive experience working in the housekeeping departments of union hotels, about the skills and knowledge needed to keep guest rooms clean, safe and well maintained. This included not only instruction on ergonomics, chemical safety, sanitation issues, and customer service, but also extensive practice and drills so that students could master how to fully clean a hotel room and bathroom within 32 minutes or less. The work was physical, hard and challenging; however, Mario immediately took to it. From the moment he joined the program, he shared that he could not help but be impressed by how hands on the program was, how great the instructors were, and the true sense of hospitality he felt from the first moment he walked into class.
As the class progressed, Mario, through his positive energy and strong work ethic, was quickly able to distinguish himself as a star performer by the instructors and his fellow students. And, as employers from some of the top union hotels came to visit the class and observe the students, Mario was thrilled to be selected to interview. To his great delight, he quickly received a job offer from the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel to join their team as a Room Attendant, and, on May 14, 2018, just three days after completing his classroom training with the HTA, Mario started employment at the hotel.
Mario reports that he is working hard and is very happy in his new job and is thankful to the HTA for this opportunity. As a Room Attendant with the Beverly Wilshire, Mario now earns $18.82 hour and, as a union member, he and his family also have access to full health and benefits, plus a pension and legal fund. He has successfully launched his new career in hospitality and he is excited about what the future holds for him and his family.