CINCINNATI (June 1, 2023) — One of the best things about working in construction, Mecca Lee said, is seeing daily progress as a project takes shape.
“When I get home, I feel like I accomplished something, and I feel proud of it,” the 45-year-old mother of two said.
On her birthday last November, Mecca (pronounced MEE-ka) began work for a large Cincinnati-based construction manager/general contractor. “It was the best birthday ever,” she said. “It was pretty much like I was meant to be there.”
For Mecca, landing the full-time job was the culmination of much hard work, including the completion of two intensive construction training programs.
Mecca received more good news when she qualified for a program that helped her get a car so she could get to and from work. She needed car insurance, though, and she couldn’t pay the premiums until she earned a few paychecks.
She then connected with United Way’s Project Lift, which removes barriers so families can attain financial stability. By providing critical, short-term assistance, the program enables families to achieve long-term success.
“The fact that Project Lift was able to pay my insurance for six months was a blessing – a complete, God-given blessing,” Mecca said. She is now financially stable and pays the bills herself.
“There was a time in my life I kind of thought I didn’t matter, that I was just a person here,” she said. As recently as a couple of years ago, she was in a self-described slump. She held a number of jobs over the years, including fielding calls in customer service, but she wasn’t satisfied.
Her father’s death in July 2021 was a turning point. “My father never told me he was proud of me,” Mecca said. She vowed to change course. “I didn’t want just a job. I wanted a career.”
She is now a journeyman laborer. She received a raise in the spring. She plans to enter a carpentry apprenticeship program in the fall. “I’ve always liked working with my hands,” she said.
“I get up every morning ready to go to work. This is what I wanted. I also wanted my grandbabies to be able to see me do something with my life.”
In construction, she is building her own path to a better future.
Project Lift supports families on their journey to financial stability. Project Lift sponsors listen to each families’ challenges, find ways to leverage resources to assist them with short-term needs – rent, food, child care, utilities, transportation, etc. – and provide an ongoing support system as they work to increase their incomes and build long-term economic well-being.
United Way of Greater Cincinnati is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization [Tax ID: 31-0537502]. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.