Amber Finds Her Way Out

“The support I’ve received from my FSET and W-2 workers…has been priceless,” Amber tells us. She’s made four big breakthroughs over the past month. She graduated from FSC’s Office Foundations Training, found stable housing, owns a car that works, and graduated from the first step of Circles Green Bay. For Amber, it all came down to finding people she could rely upon to pull her from a “shaky living situation” onto stable ground. Once there, she started taking small steps toward her dreams.

“I was looking for a place to fit in. Not just in the workplace, but truly in life in general,” says Amber. Her family needed her, but without a home, car, or job, “I was being crushed under the weight of so many people depending on me for their own basic needs.”

Together with FSC and Circles, Amber is learning the skills she needs to not only find a job but to “become employable.” She’s learned how to budget both her time and money so she can do more with less. Training with FSC has helped her polish her resume and learn the skills she needs to find a solid career. Meanwhile, joining Circles fulfilled a heartfelt “desire for community and support from other people that share my struggles and understand my journey.” She says that she feels more accountable for her choices now, is motivated to change, and also feels “prepared to adapt to the changes I expect to continue to come.”

“The hardest thing I had to face was the full acknowledgement that I am the captain of my ship… and it is 100% my responsibility to find a way out,” says Amber. “With the support of an amazing team behind me, one step at a time, I found my footing.” Amber invited Emily to attend her Circles graduation, where Amber gave a speech about her progress so far. Amber is on the next step in the program and hopes to enroll in courses that enable her to “pursue a voice in victim advocacy, whether through volunteer work or a career. I will keep moving forward even if that means tiny steps full of trips and falls, and I will be able to be fully self-sufficient in the next couple of years.”

Congratulations, Amber! We can’t wait to see your next graduation!

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Makhia’s Expecting Great Things

Imagine studying for your finals with one youngster at home and another on the way. That would be enough to make anyone gulp, but when Makhia learned that she was expecting again, she knew that it was now or never. She signed up for Wisconsin Works and FSET to earn the diploma she needed to strengthen her family, and this summer she’s done it!

Makhia realized that earning her HSED was the first step toward finding a job that could support her growing family. She had previously worked in customer service and healthcare, but her pregnancy made it difficult to find work in those fields. “I still had a child at home who had needs,” she tells us. “That was a HUGE challenge when I didn’t have a job.”

Wisconsin Works helped Makhia with cash assistance throughout her work search, but to get her enrolled in school, her case manager introduced her to the FSET team. Through them, Makhia immediately enrolled in Blackhawk Technical College‘s GED Fast Track program. As she passed one test after another, her anticipation turned into excitement. She eagerly reported each score to her case manager. By the last test, “I was on pins and needles waiting for the results!” she says.

Makhia plans to put her new HSED to use as soon as possible to find a great career. “None of this would have really been possible without the W-2 and FSET programs!” she says. “ W-2 helped me continue to pay my bills and take care of my daughter, while FSET helped me study for the HSED and tests!”

Great job, Makhia! We’re excited to see where you go from here!

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DeShawn Trains for Family’s Future

“Only you can hold you back,” says DeShawn. He just graduated from the TrANS construction program, and with hard work and teachers who believe in him, he’s not holding himself back anymore!

DeShawn came to TrANS because although he had a stable income, it was barely enough to make ends meet. “In class,” he says, “I learned what I was capable of doing. I knew if I pushed myself beyond what I thought I could do, I’d find success.” On the advice of a friend, he started training to earn his CDL, so he could land a job as soon as possible after graduation. Instead, he earned one before he graduated.

When his TrANS instructor Lorie heard that a contractor was looking for drivers before the hiring season started, DeShawn was in her top 3 recommendations. “The contractor kept in contact to get updates on DeShawn’s progress, and they asked him to contact them as soon as he received his CDL – which he did.” Ptaschinski Construction hired DeShawn before he graduated, and he’s been working as a driver for them since the season started this year.

With Ptaschinski Construction, DeShawn has found more people who are willing to teach him, so he can grow and get better at his job. “Not only is my future looking good, but I no longer worry about finances or my responsibility to my family. I know I can provide for them.”

Congratulations, DeShawn!

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Motivated Mom

Two things stand out about Merissa – she’s a professional multitasker and her organization skills would impress anyone. She worked for four years in the computer industry while arranging a busy schedule of appointments for her son’s autism. Grandma was able to help during the week, but when Merissa became pregnant again, it wasn’t long before her schedule became too packed to manage the extra commutes – often two round trips a day. After leaving her job this March, she came to Wisconsin Works for the boost she needed to get back into the workforce.

Merissa “wanted to find a job as soon as she could provide for her family, and also because she was proficient in so many areas and didn’t want to forget anything,” her case manager explains. “I was very impressed.” Merissa started in a W-2 placement that provided the financial support she needed until after her baby was born. She was so motivated to begin work, however, that they quickly transitioned her to a placement that let her focus on her job search instead.

Together, Merissa and her team focused on finding work with a flexible schedule, so she could be there for her children, and a good pay range. She kept her skills sharp during the last few months of pregnancy by exploring job leads and resources in FSC’s Resource Room. “I believe this was the most valuable thing she could have had,” says her case manager. The focused computer time kept her skills sharp, while regular access to a Skills Instructor helped her craft a resume and cover letter that showcased her many talents. She created a budget to ensure she could make ends meet and even got vouchers for professional attire from Goodwill. Plus, her team let her know that they would be available whenever she needed them. “She really needed someone to let her know that she was great, she was worth it, and she was going to be okay.”

This support gave Merissa the motivation to put her resume out there again. She went to a hiring event through Kelly Services at the Job Center and was offered a full-time Administrative Assistant position at Prima Management the same day!  Merissa says she loves her job, and she’s happy to be there for her family again. Congratulations!

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Dawn’s New Horizon

When Dawn moved to Wisconsin, she brought a whole lot of energy and compassion with her – but she was surprised that her CNA license wouldn’t come along for the ride. In a scramble to support her family and stay in the field she loved, Dawn learned about Wisconsin Works. Today, she’s back in healthcare and shooting for new horizons!

Dawn was relieved that with W-2, she could get back into healthcare right away. Dawn’s case manager Sara worked with NWTC to help pay for classes, starting this fall. In the meantime, Sara recommended Dawn for an upcoming on-site training course in healthcare. Earning her CPR certificate again gave her the motivation she needed to push her job search to the next level.

It didn’t take long before Dawn got an offer from Wyndemere Estates. She’s excited to start CNA classes, so she can advance her career in her new home. Congratulations, Dawn!

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Doris Gets More Out of Life

Doris came to TrANS last year with one goal in mind: to be the best. Today, she’s such a great flagger that drivers actually thank her when she says to slow down. If you ask why she’ll never slow her career down, though, she’ll tell you it’s because she wants to be the best mom, too.

“I’ve worked long hot hours. . . only to barely stay above water,” she tells us. As a single mom, she was “always trying to play catch up with the rent, bills, and having extra money to just enjoy life.” Five years ago, she couldn’t keep up any more and found herself staying in a shelter with her six-year old son. She vowed never to put her son in that situation again.

She wanted a job where her long hours would pay off. When Doris realized that construction was an option, she grabbed the opportunity with both hands. “Doris’ competitive drive was unmatched,” says her TrANS instructor Ranard. “She prided herself on following-through and completing course activity with unrivaled veracity.”

Today, Doris is proud to work as a flagger with Northeast Asphalt. “Now I can enjoy working long hours knowing I’m not behind on any bills, knowing that I can take a trip if I wanted to, most of all I can work knowing that I’m providing a better quality of life for my son, my pride and joy, my motivation to always want more out of life.”

Congratulations, Doris!

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Angela’s Set for Success

“So I’m sitting in Shannon’s cubicle and noticed some posters about these boot camps. They are 3 months of full-time schooling with an internship at a company that may hire you on when you graduate.” Seeing those posters changed Angela’s life. After years of searching for the perfect job, she finally has the career she’s always wanted – and the family-time she needs to be a great mom.

Angela had always worked part-time, so she could spend time at home raising her sons. After a rough divorce, she was determined to establish her independence and improve their lives. A friend told her about the help she could get from Wisconsin Works. That’s when she started building the strength she needed to succeed. She got Emergency Assistance and a Job Access Loan to help cover rent, and she started taking classes to learn how to improve her job search. She started several jobs, but they weren’t what she was looking for in a career.

“I told Shannon and Maureen that it was time for me to look at a different career field,” she says. That’s when she noticed the posters on her case manager Shannon’s wall. They gave her information about the training, and she noticed that one was for CNC operators. She asked her eldest son if she could shadow him for a day, and that’s when she realized that “Yeah, this was my thing!”

While she was waiting for training to begin, she made the most of her resources at FSC. She volunteered at the front desk for an experience she could add to her resume and “took classes online at to get certificates that helped me be ready for school. . .  It was fun and I enjoyed working with all the people there. They work as a team and are always ready to help out whoever walks through that door.”

Once training started, her team set her up for success. “They were on top of things to make sure I got whatever I needed to be successful. I got gas vouchers to make it to interviews and school, I got help with my brakes on my car when they were failing and they helped me get work clothes and safety shoes for my new job in a factory.”

Angela got an internship at Mid-States Aluminum and was hired on by the company after a two-week test period. “I was like, Finally, financial stability for my boys and me!” she beams. “I’ve been working 3rd for 3 weeks now and I love it. It works out better for my boys because I get to spend so much more quality time with them.” She is currently living in “a beautiful country home” and feels great knowing that she has opportunities for promotion. She’s even going back to school this fall. “I am going to further my career by going to school at MPTC for Process Engineering.”

Congratulations, Angela! We’re so glad you’re in a career you love.

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Healing Hands

Healthcare has been Carrie’s calling ever since high school. She earned her CNA certificate while she was a teen and went on to earn her degree as a surgical technician. But when her life was suddenly torn apart, she needed help stitching it back together. She came to Wisconsin Works and FSET, and today she is back to the operating table with a much furrier set of patients.

Carrie worked in surgery for eight years. It takes a lot to shake her, but a long divorce took its toll on her work, until she was let go in 2015. She joined Wisconsin Works that September and met with her case manager Karen to start focusing on the future.

“Her employment plan was filled with activities to help her feel accomplished and ready to take on the world,” says Karen. Carrie got both one-on-one job searching help and joined the weekly job club for additional job leads, interview preparation, and resume assistance. She learned about FSET, where she got vouchers for gas and interview attire, to support her job search, and additional counselling to help her through her recent life change.

Carrie also took on three work experiences as a receptionist at the Pregnancy Center, Foundations for Living, and the Forward Service Corporation main desk. As she worked with people again, she started to realize both how valuable and capable she actually is. She picked up new computer skills and started to think forward again.

When she noticed an opening for a Veterinary Assistant at Waupaca Small Animal Hospital, she was ready to grab it. She had everything they needed, was hired part-time, and will earn a pay increase once she’s done training to become a Veterinary Technician. Carrie says this job means the world to her, since it will enable her to pay off her debt, provide for her loved ones, and enjoy life again. Plus, she’s excited for the chance to make a career helping furry little critters get better!

We’re so happy for you! Congratulations!

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A Change Worth Making

“I have met some really good people through this journey,” says Angela. When she moved back to her home state of Wisconsin with her children, after years away, Angela’s family and friends where long gone. She wanted a fresh start, but it seemed like the only familiar thing was the scenery. Then she joined WIOA and got the support she needed to build her new life.

“Without the WIOA program, I don’t know what I would’ve done,” Angela tells us. “As much as I’d like to think I would’ve made it through regardless, I can’t help but look back and see how these programs and people made an impact on my life.” Angela wanted to become a nurse, but the “financial challenges were constant as a single parent trying to survive as a college student.” WIOA helped fund her education and get her the resources she needed to make college work. When she needed fuel to get to class and clinical sites, WIOA helped provide vouchers. When her car suddenly broke down during her last semester, they helped her get the resources to fix it.

Her counselors provided guidance she could rely on throughout life’s ups and downs. “Jamie was my counselor when I needed someone to talk to, even if just to vent,” says Angela. “I cried, I laughed and know if it wasn’t for her there’s a very strong chance I wouldn’t have continued to push through. I don’t even have all the words to explain how much her support continues to mean to me today.”

Today, Angela works full-time as a nurse, and she is financially independent for the first time since her move. Her children have a place to call home, and she says that hers was a change worth making. Now, instead of trying to survive, she’s focusing on improving the lives of those around her. She tutors, works with the elderly, and hopes to go back to school for her bachelors in nursing.  “I hope to make a positive difference for those whose lives I am able to impact,” she says.

We know you will! Congratulations, Angela!

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Heather’s Success

“I am doing things that most women wouldn’t believe they could do,” says Heather, a recent graduate of the TrANS program. Heather joined Wisconsin Works to get back into the workforce, but she never expected her case manager to recommend construction as an option. When she looked at her two small children, however, Heather realized that she could achieve anything for them. That was all it took to get Heather on the road to the career she always wanted.

Heather quickly learned that making good money was just one benefit of working in construction. “I liked pushing myself to learn the things that I didn’t know and surprised myself with how well I was doing,” Heather tells us. Her instructor Lorie encouraged her to learn different skills and career paths in construction. “She had confidence in me, and as I learned the material, passed the trainings, and completed the program, I realized I could do everything that Lorie said I could.”

On Lorie’s advice, Heather signed up to earn her CDL. “Before I even started at the driving school, I had a contractor interested in hiring me,” she says. The day she graduated, they actually asked her up to their corporate office to offer her a better position with more hours. “I had my second daughter in October – soon after that had joined TrANS. Now I’m on my way to giving one of the best futures to my beauties! They deserve it!! I’m so happy to be a mom, excited, and so pumped now for learning new ways to be creative in the field I desire – never would have thought it.”

“This job means that I will be able to provide for my kids, to be a responsible parent. It has made me feel better about myself, more secure in what I do and what I can do in the future. This is the job that I have always wanted. I love it!”

Heather is currently doing roadwork with Payne & Dolan. When asked what advice she’d give others, she says to listen to others who are trying to help, because “sometimes they see your abilities better than you see them in yourself.”

Well done, Heather!

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