Helped at-risk establish construction careers
Ernest Roberts, the original PVJOBS executive director who spent two decades in this role to help transform lives through groundbreaking job programs for the at-risk community, has sadly passed away. Roberts succumbed last week in his Running Springs home following a long illness.
A trailblazer who helped create transformative construction job programs to rehabilitate the lives of at-risk individuals, Roberts served as the rock of PVJOBS since its founding in 1998. As its inaugural leader, Roberts fiercely guided the organization from its early stages as a burgeoning nonprofit to becoming a national model for job programs serving at-risk communities.
Roberts, who was once considered at-risk himself due to his past incarceration and drug use, maintained a special connection with PVJOBS participants since he often understood their struggles on a personal level. His determination to succeed, despite his past, was an inspiration to many, having rebuilt his own life by earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from USC before taking the helm of the newly formed PVJOBS organization and leading it to great heights.
“No one understood the needs of the people we serve at PVJOBS more than Ernest. He was committed to making sure that everyone got a second chance and was, himself, a model for how hard work and dedication can result in lives that are changed forever,” said Mary Taylor, who currently serves as the PVJOBS executive director. “PVJOBS expanded and succeeded because of his vision, and everyone who has come through our doors looking for a second chance owes him a debt of gratitude.”
During the beginning years of the organization, PVJOBS Board President Valerie Lynne Shaw began working with Roberts while she served as a commissioner for the Los Angeles City Department of Public Works. Shaw remembers Roberts as a passionate activist who sought to build relationships with leaders in both the public and private sectors to help broker landmark agreements that led them to launching hiring programs for their large development projects.
“Ernest Roberts was our own community-based renaissance man. He used his multiple talents to change lives and improve neighborhoods,” said Shaw. “He used his life force to help thousands of people, so it’s clear that his work lives on. He was a gift to us all.”
“His life was spent helping people overcome their history of poverty, drug abuse, incarceration and more, knowing that they could create new careers and new lives through PVJOBS,” Taylor said. “He will be sorely missed, but his legacy will live on in each family he has touched and in each new career he has sparked.”