That instant came on New Year’s Eve, when Austin’s 27-year-old wife, Lindsay, went into labor with their son Cainan. Austin’s boss was telling him if he didn’t show up for his shift as a part-time security guard in Manchester, he would lose his job. He chose to be with his family instead, and he drove her to Concord Hospital on icy roads, with a lot on his mind.
Cainan was the first baby of the year born in Concord, and Austin was fired from his job, as promised. He found out via text message.
Although Austin, 31, said losing his job at Salerno Protective Services was initially discouraging, what followed was a surprise: He received an outpouring of support, including job offers, and almost $11,000 raised in a GoFundMe account.
People from across the country wanted to help him. His story went international.
Now, seven months later, life has calmed down for Austin and his family. He is working again at a new job as an electrician’s apprentice at Blay Electric in Concord, one of the many job offers he received.
He said he owes a lot to the people who read his story and offered their help.
“Having my son on the first changed my life,” Austin reflected recently from a job site in Pelham, as the sound of drill-drivers installing solar panels rattled in the background. “There’s no doubt about that in my mind.”
Austin was first offered the opportunity to apply for an electrician apprenticeship in January by Denis Beaudoin, business manager to the local arm of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Beaudoin described the opportunity not as a handout, but a “hand up” – an opportunity for Austin, a displaced Iraq veteran and a father of four, to get his life on track after years of bad luck with employment.
Austin decided to take advantage of the offer, and after passing an entry-level test, background checks and an interview process, Austin was matched with an electrician.
Shaun Blay, who had recently started his own family, said he was impressed with Austin after reading his story and sought him out as an employee.
“We try to look for people with good family values, and I think Lamar’s story really showcases those values,” Blay said.
Austin has been working with Blay four weeks, but he said he’s already learned how to run wires, put up solar panels and use most of the tools. Blay’s company, which serves 100 to 200 customers annually, primarily works on construction projects, new houses, solar jobs and business and facility maintenance.
Blay described some of it as “dirty work,” but said Austin has been handling it well.
“He’s a hard worker, shows up on time every day; if I ask him to do something, he gladly does it and never complains,” Blay said.
As a first-year apprentice, Austin makes $14 an hour. It’s the highest salary he’s ever been paid. And after 150 hours of work, he will get access to health insurance and a retirement plan through the electrical worker’s union.
He said he hopes to complete the five years of apprenticeship and become a journeyman. Blay said he would like to keep Austin for the duration of his apprenticeship and maybe beyond that.
“As long as I have enough work for him, I’m going to keep him busy,” Blay said.
Austin’s wife, Lindsay, is still at home taking care of their four kids, who Austin says are growing fast. Baby Cainan is now 17 pounds and 30 inches tall.
Austin said he is grateful for the “warm hearts” out there that heard of his situation and offered help.
“I didn’t expect people to care about my story and look out for me,” he said. “I just figured, I lost my job and I would have to try to get back on my feet myself. But I didn’t really have to do that. I had a path already waiting for me.