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Victoria man looks for contracting work outside Lowe's

ALLISON MILES

By ALLISON MILES
March 9, 2011 at 6:01 p.m.
Updated March 8, 2011 at 9:09 p.m.

"I'm a master carpenter, but I'm not too proud to dig a ditch." Charles Windham spends his mornings standing in front of Lowe's hoping to get work. A few leads have come his way, but full-time work still hasn't happened.

The sky was gray Tuesday, and a light drizzle fell outside Victoria's Lowe's Home Improvement store. Shielded beneath the overhang stood Charlie Windham and his hand-written sign: Carpenter, painter 4 hire. Honest hard worker.

Windham, 39, found himself out of work in a down economy and took up his post at Lowe's Monday in hopes of finding temporary or permanent work.

The father of six recently went through a divorce and saw the Denton company he owned, Windham Construction, close its doors. He said he moved to Victoria about a year ago to find work, but recently, the bottom fell out of the market.

"In the past four months I went from having a lot of work to nothing," he said, noting he believes the government is to blame for the nation's economic problems.

He said he's looked for employment through other means, but it just hasn't worked out. Workforce Solutions didn't have available positions and, at temp agencies, a person can wait around all day every day for a week and might only get work for a day.

"I'd rather be here, where I know there's people coming in and out," he said from his station at Lowe's. "I think I stand a better chance."

Windham does carpentry work but also paints, draws, designs tattoos and more.

Looking for work is humbling, said Windham, who once made $100,000 a year but has eaten recent meals at the charitable organization Christ's Kitchen. Regardless, he said he's willing to take whatever work comes his way.

"I'm a master carpenter," he said. "I've been a carpenter for 25 years. But I'm not too proud to dig a ditch. I'm just asking for an honest day's pay for an honest day's work."

And, Tuesday afternoon, his perseverance paid off.

Marc Bernhard, who owns SRG, offered Windham a full-time drilling job. He said it's nice to see someone going to such measures to better his situation.

"If he takes the initiative to try and get work, that says a lot," Bernhard said. "Not everybody does that."

It feels good to be back on the job, Windham said during a break from burying conduits for a new subdivision.

"It's wonderful," he said. "I tried to do something the right way, and it paid off. Maybe people need to make more signs in America."

As for other people in Windham's situation, he advised them to keep at it.

"Don't give up, don't let down, keep your head up, and keep it honest," he said.

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