At only 36 years old, it seems that Englebert has already lived many different lifetimes. His favorite is the one he is living now – holding a steady, and exciting job as a Solar Installation Professional at EmPower Solar.
Englebert’s parents came to Long Island from Haiti, working 12-hour shift days leaving him to be the man of the house, responsible for his own wellbeing as well as his younger sister. It was difficult for the siblings to have a normal childhood as they were typically left with household responsibilities and no money for clothes or equipment for after school activities. Upon graduating high school, Englebert’s future was unclear due to his family’s financial insecurities. After driving past a military recruiting station he decided to take the practice test for entrance into the military, but did not pass. Undeterred from bettering his life, he enrolled in Nassau Community college but had to withdraw after only a semester because he lacked the funds to continue. After studying for the military entry exam for four months, he retook the test, received a 95 and joined the Army.
In 2000, after basic training in Jackson, S.C., he was deployed to Germany for his first tour. As part of the Military Police unit, his training regimen included very physical activities including repelling from high distances while managing heavy loads of equipment which prepared him for any possible case of emergency of catastrophe. After his discharge, he worked as a direct care aid for 10 years, and fulfilled his dream of attending college, taking classes in criminal justice for two years thanks to funds from the GI Bill. In 2014, Englebert came in contact with a case manager from United Veterans Beacon House, who informed him of the VetsBuild program.
“I was looking to do something exciting with my life, something that I could be proud of and truly enjoy,” Englebert explained. “I never knew a program like VetsBuild existed, a program that could help me support my family, work with my hands, and help the environment.”
In April of 2015 Englebert enrolled in the program and successfully completed the five-week program. Recognizing his potential and knowing about his Army training, VetsBuild training director Stephen arranged for a career connection with SunPower by EmPower Solar. In less than a month, Englebert completed an interview and embarked on the first step of a new career.
“SunPower by EmPower Solar is honored to partner with United Way of Long Island on building zero energy homes, and on its transformation workforce training programs,” explained David Schieren, CEO of SunPower by EmPower Solar. “Hiring from VetsBuild is not only the right thing to do, it's also smart business. Englebert is a great example of an individual who excelled in the training program, and has demonstrated his talents, dedication and drive in in the workplace installing solar power. “Bert” is a highly valued member of the team.”
This means the world to Englebert and his family – he lives in Deer Park with this two sons, Micah who is 14 and Isaiah who is 10, and mother.
When asked about how this job changed his life, he reflected “It feels great – I get to spend more time with my family, go to my son’s football games on the weekend, an opportunity I didn’t have when I was their age. The fact that my sons don’t have to struggle like I did makes me so proud.”
The fact that his work helps people live better lives is not lost on Englebert. “I was very close to my aunt growing up, and she passed away when I was young,” he said. “She always told me to be somebody important, to change lives and make people happy so I made a vow to myself that I would fulfill her dream for me. I wake up every morning proud that I am going to change someone’s life and make them feel better because they are saving money and going green.”
“For those thinking about joining VetsBuild, I would tell them to enroll. We fought for our country, we need to help others here like we did when we were in the military.”