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Ernest Roberts, Community Advocate and First PVJOBS Executive Director, Dies
By Sentinel News Service
Published November 25, 2021

Ernest Roberts (Courtesy photo)

Ernest Roberts, the first PVJOBS Executive Director who spent two decades in this role to help transform lives through groundbreaking job programs for the at-risk community, passed away on November 17. He succumbed 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 pillar of PVJOBS since its founding in 1998. He fiercely guided the organization from a burgeoning nonprofit to becoming a national model for job programs serving at-risk communities.

Roberts was the first executive director of PVJOBS. (Courtesy photo)

Roberts, who was once considered at-risk himself due to his previous incarceration and drug use, maintained a special connection with PVJOBS participants. His determination to succeed, despite his past, inspired many. He later earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from USC before taking the helm of the newly formed PVJOBS.

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“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.”

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Roberts had more than 25 years of experience in the technical and construction fields. He once owned and operated The House Doctor, a construction and home improvement services business that exclusively hired at-risk individuals. He also served as the president of the West Los Angeles College PACE Alumni Association.

 

Upon hearing the news of Roberts’ death, an outpouring of heartfelt messages were expressed by PVJOBS staff, board and community of supporters who treasured Roberts for being a courageous and compassionate advocate for rehabilitative job programs as well as a true pioneer in this movement.

 

“Ernest never saw people for what they were, but rather saw them for what they could become,” said Taylor. “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. 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.”

 

Categories: Celebration of Life
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