Evan Alvarez, Weatherization Technician
For Evan Alvarez, helping other people comes naturally. As a Colorado National Guard member who served as an Army medic in Afghanistan, he was on the front lines ensuring his patients got the attention they needed, whether on the operating table or in the dentist’s chair. Today, Evan is a weatherization technician for Veterans Green Jobs, where he takes equal pride in helping low-income residents. While not considered as time-critical, his services are important to clients’ health, safety and well being.
“Our clients tell us they really notice a difference in their homes overnight. One woman said she woke up for the first time without a headache. Carbon monoxide had been leaking, and we fixed that.” He also remembers the client who had a breathing disorder, and was looking forward to a newer, cleaner furnace system. At the end of the day, Evan values working for any client who takes pride in improving his or her home.
Clients’ satisfaction rubs off on Evan every day, motivating him to continually maintain his own high standards. “People are always very gracious. They’re not afraid to tell us how much they appreciate our work.”
Evan’s Army buddies call him “Doc Arez,” a nickname he has earned both personally and professionally. He worked as a hospice volunteer while his mother was ill, and was hercaregiver until she passed away in 2009. As an Army medic, his daily experiences have run the gamut from assisting in emergency and operating room surgeries, to staffing the dental clinic and the ambulance crew.
His skills, honed in the military, transfer well to the civilian work environment: he is cool and calm under pressure, meets deadlines, and assertively speaks up when he has a good idea. Also, he jokes, “I’m not afraid to get dirty. I’ve been covered in bodily fluids.”
Evan misses one thing more than anything else about the military: “I miss getting triple amputees to laugh. Humor gives them the will to live, and that’s powerful medicine. Cracking jokes is how I keep my head on.”
Evan admits that it’s been hard fitting in to the civilian workforce. But at Veterans Green Jobs, the transition has been made smoother due to its culture. “I love that it’s military friendly. There’s a certain esprit de corps.” He also enjoys the level of professionalism of the crews, learning tangible skills – and above all, helping people.
Eventually, Evan plans to get certified as a surgical technician, obtain his Bachelor of Science in nursing, and become a physician’s assistant in trauma surgery. In the meantime, while he waits for the next chance to put Disney Princess or Hello Kitty band-aids on patients, Evan is enjoying a stable paycheck – and the chance to make a tangible difference in quality of life for Denver-area households.