On March 15, 2024 SkillSource hosted the 34th Recognition & Awards Banquet at the Confluence Technology Center in Wenatchee. It was the first banquet of its kind since 2018 with 120 attendees that included staff, graduates, employers, board members, community partners, and loved ones.

Sometimes the very best future employees need additional resources to overcome significant obstacles or challenges on their path. Investment in individuals through training and support services provides local businesses with skilled employees while improving the livelihood of customers within the community. It’s a win-win situation, and it relies on the dedication of the individual, the willingness of the business, and the support of community partners like SkillSource.

The banquet is a celebration of SkillSource graduates and the North Central Washington businesses who hired and trained them. Read their stories below.

Noah Olsen & Wenatchee School District

Noah Olsen was hooked on a career with computers, but thought his only option for training was a college degree and huge student loans. Noah transferred from Cascade Discovery School to SkillSource in Wenatchee to pursue his GED. He earned his GED quickly, and applied for a Computer Technician Apprenticeship with the Wenatchee School District. Noah was offered the apprenticeship, and upon completion had earned the equivalent of a 2-year college degree. Noah is now employed with the Wenatchee School District as a Tech Support Specialist!

Noah was introduced by Christy Mataya of SkillSource. An employer recognition award was also presented to Ron Brown, the executive director of technology at Wenatchee School District and Noah’s supervisor. Awards were presented by SkillSource board members, Ryan Beebout (Sabey Data Centers) and Nate Mack (LiUNA Local 348).

Victoria Perez & SageBrush Dental

Victoria Perez had a goal to find a career that could support her family. In March 2020 she completed a Dental Assistant program at Central Washington University, and then sought out services offered through SkillSource to make the connection from credentialed, to employed. Victoria entered On-the-Job Training through SkillSource and was connected to a local dentist, Dr. Erich Jurges of SageBrush Dental in Wenatchee, where she earned while she learned job-specific skills. Victoria is now an outstanding employee at SageBrush Dental!

Victoria was introduced by Toby Haberlock of SkillSource. An employer recognition award was also presented to Sarai Lara, an employee of and representative for SageBrush Dental, and also a former on-the-job training participant from SkillSource! Awards were presented by SkillSource board members Tom Legel (Confluence Health) and Todd Wurl (Employment Security Department).

Jesus Montes-Fuentes & AAA ReadyMix

Jesus Montes-Fuentes was living in his car and knew he needed a change for himself and his family. He came to SkillSource for support. SkillSource helped sponsor his education and provided him with assistance so that Jesus could complete his studies and earn his CDL Class A certification and hazmat endorsement. With his new skills, the right education, and stable housing, Jesus began regular employment with AAA Ready Mix Inc. in Moses Lake and is now on the road to success as a certified truck driver!

Jesus was introduced by Natasha Herring of SkillSource. An employer recognition award was also presented to Phil Lawson, Jesus’ supervisor and the plant manager for AAA ReadyMix. Awards were presented by SkillSource board members Irasema Ortiz-Elizalde (DSHS) and Ken Johnson (Johnson’s Glass & More).

Rebecka Allen & North Cascades Law Group

Rebecka Allen had dropped out of high school to care for her family. After learning about the WorkSource system, she enrolled at the Learning Center in Omak to work on completing her high school diploma and to pursue work experience. She began a paid work experience with North Cascades Law Group in October 2023 and honed her work readiness skills. She is currently completing On-the-Job Training while earning her paralegal degree, and upon completion will transition to a full time paralegal position with North Cascades Law!

Rebecka was introduced by Gabriela Perky of WorkSource. An employer recognition award was also presented to Rebecka’s employer, Dale Crandall, lawyer and owner of North Cascades Law Group. Awards were presented by Okanogan County Commissioner, Chris Branch, and SkillSource board members Anthony Popelier (Oroville Reman/Reload).

Allen Cothrun & Grocery Outlet

Allen Cothrun struggled with the transition to civilian life after serving in the US Navy. He attended the ACE workshop at SkillSource in Moses Lake, and after receiving guidance on work readiness, his SkillSource career counselor connected him to a Work Experience with Grocery Outlet. Allen proved himself as a “keeper” and was offered a full time role at Grocery Outlet, where he transitioned to a short On-the-Job Training. After six months of training, Allen was promoted to the Meat Department Manager and today he is the Closing Supervisor!

Allen was introduced by James Beck of SkillSource. An employer recognition award was also presented to Paul Emerson, owner of Grocery Outlet in Moses Lake and Allen’s supervisor. Awards were presented by SkillSource board members Tad Hildebrand (Nash Consulting) and Sara Thompson Tweedy (Big Bend Community College).

Domenico Tedeschi & Confluence Health

Domenico Tedeschi came to the United States as a refugee in 2018. Domenico learned English and earned his nursing assistant certification through Wenatchee Valley College in 2019. Domenico was referred to SkillSource for help with funding his education, which was possible thanks to Economic Security for All (EcSA). This support enabled Domenico to successfully complete his nursing degree in June 2023, and he was awarded the WVC President’s Medal! Domenico is now an ICU Registered Nurse at Confluence Health in Wenatchee.

Domenico was introduced by Heidi Lamers of SkillSource. An employer recognition award was also presented to Toni Holder, the ICU Nursing Supervisor at Confluence Hospital. Awards were presented by SkillSource board members Faimous Harrison (Wenatchee Valley College) and Julie Helligso (Cascade Veterinary Clinics).

The final presentation of the night for Domenico and Confluence Health teed up an exciting announcement by SkillSource CEO, Lisa Romine. She shared how Domenico traveled to Olympia with SkillSource executive team members in January to share his personal story with legislators in advocacy of the codification of EcSA (Economic Security for All). On March 14, 2024 the bill was signed into law by Governor Inslee, ensuring these important resources will continue in perpetuity, helping others find success on their path to self-sufficiency.

The banquet was preceded by a meeting of the SkillSource Regional Workforce Board. The meeting was an opportunity to gather in person to delve into the issues and opportunities for workforce development in North Central Washington. The board discussed the new four-year Regional Workforce Plan, which is open for public comment until April 1.

Recognizing Success

Thank you to our M.C. for the night, Michelle Price, SkillSource Vice Chair (NCESD 171). Thank you to our banquet planning team, our presenters, SkillSource board members, and county commissioners. Thank you to Ring A Bell’s catering for the delicious dinner, to Evergreen Luxury Events for the photo booth, and to Jason Sims, for entertaining banquet attendees with tableside magic.

SkillSource would also like to recognize and thank all of our staff for your daily dedication and compassion, without you this important work simply would not be possible. Congratulations to everyone who was recognized at this year’s banquet. Your commitment is exemplary, and North Central Washington is a better place because of you. We’re already looking forward to the next Recognition & Awards Banquet in 2026!