Full-Time Family Man

After the ice and snow this weekend, you might wonder what would compel someone like Edison to leave tropical Puerto Rico for Wisconsin. He’d tell you that it was a great decision for his family. Edison loves the support and care that only Wisconsin offers, and you can tell by the smile on his face that he has a lot to be happy about.

Edison is a man with high hopes  – the kind of guy who looks at obstacles like they’re dominoes waiting to be knocked over. He enrolled in Wisconsin Works and FSET to ease the transition for his family as they moved to the US, which was especially important since his children have disabilities requiring extra care. As such, his team helped him manage a busy schedule of doctors appointments, specialists, and applications. They helped him apply for Social Security for his children and referred him to the Veteran’s program at the Job Center to make sure he had a full range of resources. Once he was stable, they started his search for work.

Steady as a rock, Edison consistently set goals, completed each task he set his mind to, and met with every agency that was there to help. He took the initiative to learn about job searching, networking events, and training opportunities. His team helped with transportation, interview prep, setting up connections, and by recommending a training course in cabinet-making that Edison signed up for right away. By the time he graduated from the class, Edison had his first job!

Edison worked at this job for a few weeks before realizing that he needed a job with more flexibility to accommodate his family. His case manager helped him arrange interviews with companies across Wisconsin, but in the end, he decided to accept an offer from Eastco Building Services at the local Veteran’s Hospital.

Edison loves that this job lets him work 2nd shift, because that means he can still be there for his family during the day. They’re is adjusting well to life in the US. They’ve been especially impressed by the assistance and support from everyone – from the schools to programs like ours. We’re happy to help! Congratulations, Edison!

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Certified Courageous

Building a strong family was all the motivation Amber needed to join Wisconsin Works. She never lets anything keep her down, even getting the flu while struggling with homelessness and a broken car. Today, we’re celebrating a milestone with her, as she graduates with her first training certificate!

Amber has persevered over the last few months, knowing she has a strong support network with her W-2 team. They helped her get money to fix her car, find childcare, and search for stable housing. “She was her own motivator,” says her Case Manager Emily. “She rose to the challenge and did what she needed to overcome these barriers for her family.”

With her immediate needs safely tucked away, Amber was ready to pursue her long-term goal: finding a stable job to support her loved ones. The first step was finding out what she could do. She initially thought her only options were in food service, because that’s where she started. Then she started training for the hospitality industry. “Since completing the training, she realized that she has so many possibilities open to her,” says Emily. Amber loved the hands-on experience, and soon she was telling Emily how excited she was to broaden her job search.

In fact, Amber even signed up for the call center training that’s currently running and is expected to earn another certificate by the end of the month. She’s been interviewing with employers and is expecting news very soon. We’re rooting for you, Amber! Great job!

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Success is Coming Her Way

Miranda earned an Associate’s Degree so she could get ahead in life. When it turned out the job market wasn’t looking for someone with her credentials, however, she found herself between a rock and a hard place: keep earning just above minimum wage, or go into massive debt to earn another degree and hope for the best. She decided to visit the Job Center for advice. That’s when she learned about WIOA, and soon she was charting a path around her obstacles toward a career she loves!

“She is one of the smartest ladies I know and was not going to let curve balls stop her from achieving her dreams,” her Career Services Specialist John tells us. “But her school before didn’t give her much career advice.” She realized that she had a very general credential in Arts and Sciences, so they talked about how she could pursue a degree that could help her find a career with good wages. WIOA funded her education with money for tuition, books, and testing fees. This gave Miranda the flexibility to work part-time during her studies and the time she needed to explore the in-demand labor market with her career counselors. For the next two years, she raced toward the finish line, graduating with high honors, earning her nursing license, and starting her career as a registered nurse!

Miranda says that her parents, nursing instructors at NWTC, and WIOA staff were her key supporters. “She deserves everything that’s coming her way,” says John. Great job, Miranda!

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Smiling Again This Spring!

Kim is in the business of smiles – and thanks to a successful job search with Wisconsin Works and FSET, she’s back to sharing her own smile at a local dental office!

Kim worked in dental care for 16 years before losing her job last year. It was her passion, and she wanted to get back to it as quickly as possible. On the other hand, job searching was not a passion, so she decided to see the experts at FSC. Her W-2 and FSET teams immediately helped her seek out positions, prepare for interviews, and stay sharp. She got involved in the Job Club each Friday, got vouchers for gas and work clothes, and started volunteering at the FSC front desk.

Within four months, Kim secured a great job back in dentistry! She’s working as a Dental Assistant and loves her new job. She especially thanks Kristine (left), Jessica (right), and her Account Representative Wendy (not pictured) for the care they took helping update her resume and walking her through the interview process. Congratulations, Kim!

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Building Bridges: Ron’s Story

This winter, Ron was a guest speaker with our Northeast TrANS class. His story of redemption is one for the ages. Ron went from a five-year prison stint to four of the best years of his life, thanks to the honest labor made possible by TrANS. Even Ranard, however, didn’t know the latest surprise in Ron’s story.

“Ron was the best graduate I ever had years back,” says instructor Ranard. TrANS pushed Ron to apply himself and take ownership of his actions, and he worked hard to set himself on a good path. He graduated in 2014 and quickly found work in construction.

Today, Ron is building bridges with Lunda Construction, and he’s been building a life with his bride Hannah for the past year. They just purchased a house and a brand new truck. Plus, Ron surprised Ranard with paperwork showing that he’s been promoted. Ron is the first Northeast TrANS graduate to be promoted to foreman in the program’s history!

“I couldn’t help but feel proud and humbled by the fact we now have a graduate who will be hiring employees,” says Ranard. “He told my class he will bring any of them on.” We hope to see you again very soon. Congratulations all around, Ron!

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Learn from Daniel

A few years ago, Daniel wasn’t sure if he would ever be able to work again. A serious car accident left him clinging to life in the hospital, with a broken neck, back, and skull. It took years of therapy and the support of his family to bring him to the point where he could start supporting himself. Just three weeks after joining FSET, Daniel is back to work with the job he hopes he can use to keep others safe.

“Daniel’s long-term goal in the FSET program was to get a part-time job helping people,” says Vicki, his FSET Account Representative. “He wanted other people to learn from his mistakes.” Daniel was continuing speech and physical therapy, so his FSET team helped him find an opportunity to adjust to life back in the workforce. He started volunteering at Diversion House, which provides temporary housing to people with mental illnesses. They soon discovered Daniel’s passion for music. He started running a Music Therapy Group, which both he and the residents loved.

Meanwhile, the FSET team helped Daniel put together a resume and cover letter and start practicing for interviews. The next thing they knew, Daniel was asking for a job reference. He was quickly hired as a Support Staff member at St. John’s Homeless Shelter, where he checks in residents and mentors those in the shelter. Daniel says that “FSET was extremely helpful in the sense that the program gave me encouragement and motivation during a difficult period in my life.”

Congratulations, Daniel!

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Finding Inspiration

With five children at home, Tranace is a pro at management. Even so, when she decided to switch careers, she needed some help juggling family and a job search. “I moved to Wisconsin to be a better mother to my kids and motivate myself more,” says Tranace. That’s when she joined Wisconsin Works and started on her unexpected path to success.

Tranace had a passion for personal care giving, but one hurdle after another kept popping up. Her W-2 team helped Tranace steer in a different direction: fast food. At first, she thought they were nuts, but it didn’t take long for her to realize that it was actually a perfect fit.

“Fast food inspired me!” she says. Within four months, the managers at Panda Express offered her a promotion to Team Lead. Now she’s working full-time and says she finally feels motivated to finish school.

Tranace says that the folks at W-2 were great at listening to her concerns and working them “one by one” until they were resolved. “It helped out a lot. Just tell yourself not to give up, ladies.”


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Lifeline to Lasting Success

When complications left Gabrielle unable to work during pregnancy, Wisconsin Works became a lifeline of support. Gabrielle spent the next few years at home to raise her child. As soon as her baby was old enough, she decided to re-enroll in W-2 and FSET, changing her lifeline into a resource for lasting success.

Gabrielle knew that Wisconsin Works could help her brush up on the skills she needed to get back into the changing workforce. “Job Skills Training helps,” she insists. “You can feel safe to be yourself – to open up and learn how to overcome your obstacles.” Earning her training certificate gave Gabrielle the confidence to look for work again. To help her get started, her Account Representative Kevin arranged a volunteer experience for her at St. Vincent DePaul.

She enjoyed the work and spending time with her “SVPD family” so much that when she heard about a job opening, she was among the first to apply. She started at the end of January and couldn’t be happier. Gabrielle says that this job not only means stability for her family but also that “SVPD is a great company to work for.” She loves learning about the different departments in the organization and hopes to work her way up to store manager one day.

Gabrielle also sees school in her future, hoping to save up enough to go back for a degree in nursing and early childhood education. Eventually, she’d like to help children with disabilities succeed, and she sees her work with SVPD as instrumental in helping her get there. “I came here, I learned I can do it, I will do it, I’m already doing it!”

Yes, you are! Congratulations, Gabrielle!

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Three Brave Women
Three brave women, three wonderful successes! Hamdi, Safi, and Zhara met through a training course in Wisconsin Works. Each brought their family to safety within the last three years, and each woman is on her way to great things!
Safi is knocking down barriers. She fled to the United States with two children, no formal education, and limited work experience. After completing a job skills training in customer service and hospitality, she started taking English classes and participating in group learning activities. She is becoming more fluent each day, and her newfound skills are enabling her to search for a great job for the first time! 
Zahra is a picture of strength. She started looking for work just after escaping civil war with her eight children. She came to Wisconsin Works to start securing interviews and took to training right away. She now speaks with a level of confidence that landed her a follow-up interview with an employer she met during training.
After fleeing Somalia, Hamdi supported her family by housekeeping in Kenya. Life was never stable there, and in 2014 she moved to the US to find a safe home. She did not speak English and chose Iowa as her first refuge but later moved to Wisconsin to be closer to friends who could help financially while she looked for work. Eager to find a job and repay her friends for their kindness, Hamdi joined W-2.
She focused on doing activities that would give her an edge in the job market. Alongside English classes, Hamdi took computer classes, started volunteering, and enrolled in a training course in hospitality and customer service. “Hamdi took a leadership role in the class and had perfect attendance,” says her instructor. She led discussions, took tours of local employers, and had several interviews. By graduation, she had a full-time job at Tyson Foods! Hamdi loves it and says that knowing she can provide for her children gives her hope for a strong future.
Congratulations, ladies!! You are an inspiration to all of us.
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A Little Energy, A Lot of Love

With a young child at home and a baby girl on the way, Samantha knew her future was going to take a lot of love to get right. That’s why she enrolled in Wisconsin Works. Today, Sam is giving her family the stable future they deserve with her new job, while she continues her studies to become an AODA counselor.

Already in her third trimester, Sam came to W-2 with a can-do attitude but little energy left for a job search. “Her positivity rubs off on anyone she meets,” says her case manager, Tessa. “She was successful in the past and used that motivation to get back to the person she always knew she was.” Sam worked with Tessa to plan a career path that would give her time to be a great mom and advance in life. W-2 helped her family stay financially stable after giving birth, and before maternity leave ended, Sam enrolled in classes at NWTC and got a part-time job at Cintas Uniform Services.

The part-time schedule is perfect for Sam, who is a full-time A student. She hopes to graduate within the next two years and start working as an AODA counselor right away. “She is a great role model for her children and wanted to show them that they can achieve anything,” says Tessa. You are doing a fantastic job, Sam! Congratulations!!

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