Whistle While You Work
With his new job, Josh is definitely dancing to a different tune these days and as he begins 2018 in a much different place than the year before.
Josh enrolled in the WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) program feeling pretty discouraged. He’d been sending out applications and resumes that never seemed to lead to interviews. Companies in the area were hiring, so when would it be his turn?
Meeting with Colt, one of our WIOA Career Service Specialists, they decided to take a different approach. Rather than just sending out applications, Colt suggested they take some time to figure out what Josh really wants to do for work. Using some career assessments, career exploration, and, of course, the Internet, they not only quickly figured out that one of Josh’s passions is music; they also came up with a plan to use this to his advantage.
Josh and Colt floated the idea of a work experience at Jim Laabs Music Store – with 60 years of experience in making musical dreams come true. Working in shipping and receiving, Josh impressed his bosses, who then signed an On-the-Job training contract through WIOA after finishing the work experience.
This has been one of those great experiences where everyone wins: Jim Laabs Music Store is happy to add someone to their team and Josh is just in love with his new job. He says that he really appreciates the “fast-paced environment,” adding that “I am ever so glad that the WIOA Youth program could help me get a work experience and job here.”
Thank you to Jim Laabs and the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board for making this possible and congratulations to Josh.
Look at Him Now! A TrANS Graduate Update
We’ve talked about TrANS graduate Dan before. When he came to TrANS, he had just finished up a ten-year prison sentence and was making only $9/hour doing factory work. He wanted more.
Through TrANS, Dan learned the ins and outs of the industry and gained the confidence to showcase his drive and talents to employers. Since graduating, Dan hasn’t looked back. In fact, his first job offer came a few days before graduation as he packed up his car and drove from Green Bay to Fennimore, WI to work. He’s been working hard at Mega-Rentals the last couple of years, while also pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Business. His family, including his partner and their four children, have purchased their first home this year.
We received great news from Dan recently, and are excited to announce his graduation from St. Norbert College this December! “What a surreal experience. I graduate next month. Unbelievable!!” he says.
Ranard, Dan’s TrANS instructor, never misses an opportunity to talk about what a fantastic person Dan is. “Dan is the most committed TrANS grad I have ever had. No grad has referred more successful graduates to our program (not even close). No grad advocates for this program more than Dan. This man continues to inspire me to go the distance simply because that is exactly what he does.”
Dan, we congratulate you, and we thank you for inspiring us.
A New Journey
They say every journey begins with one step. Jo has taken some mighty big ones lately to put herself on track for a rewarding career.
However, that first step is often the hardest. Jo said she was out of work and didn’t know where to start. While she was determined not to give up on herself, it was also very hard to ask for help. She found that strength and enrolled in a program at Forward Service Corporation. She’d had enough of jobs without a future and quickly learned that a medical career is a natural fit for her.
As a personal caregiver, she now has the best of both worlds. She has steady income and work, while she’s also getting valuable, hands-on experience working with patients. This all fits into her plan of going back to school to become a LPN, buying her own house, and taking care of a family. Looking back now, Jo gives a big shout-out to Meghan for never giving up on her and helping her reach her goals.
Congratulations Jo. This isn’t journey’s end – just the next stage. Keep us posted on your success.
As we approach the holiday season, Rachel is the first to tell you that she has much to be thankful for this year: exciting career prospects, her independence, and a job that lets her “pay my bills, provide for my family, and be the mommy that my daughter needs and deserves.”
As Rachel points out, her life is very different now than last year and her journey hasn’t been easy by any means. She focuses every day on maintaining her sobriety for herself and her daughter and, with FSC’s help, she’s also rediscovered “a light in me that I had thought died out.”
These last few months have been a whirlwind of accomplishments for her. She took and passed a driver’s ed class so she could get her license – which she did. Things really started to change when she started work experience with a local nursing home, where she planned to earn her CNA.
Then came the opportunity of a lifetime: AmeriCorps offered a yearlong position as a Recovery Coach. This has been Rachel’s passion since coming into W-2 so she can pay it forward and help other people overcome alcohol and drug issues on their way to a sober life. AmeriCorps not only pays her, but provide money for college. Her dream is to use this money and experience from this job to go back to school to become a drug and alcohol counselor.
Congratulations Rachel! Your hard work and determination have truly paid off and your light is ready to shine.
Crystal’s Got Her Swagger Back!
What a difference a month can make! Crystal came to the FSET program recently feeling discouraged about her job prospects and in need of a confidence booster.
Well, she certainly got that from the FSC team and, soon, her bubbly personality burst through as she mastered new skills, rediscovered her swagger, and started a new job last week. After some discussion, Crystal said her passion has always been helping people and she shared her customer service experience. She then enrolled in the food service training course offered in October where she toured employers, worked on her interviewing skills, and also fixed her transportation situation. This quickly turned into an opportunity as she got a job with the local Wendy’s, the partner in this training.
Crystal thanked all the FSET staff for their encouragement and helping her stay motivated. Her focus right now is using her new job to get a new place to live, pay off some debts, and save up for more classes.
Congratulations Crystal – and thanks for coming to FSET!
2017 Annual Report
The results are in! Last year, almost 3,000 people found jobs through FSET alone. Other programs fulfilled their missions by helping customers enroll in school or training, find safe and affordable housing, and find the path they always dreamed about but never knew was possible. Download a PDF of our Annual Report for a full breakdown of the data and other fun talking points!
From Compassion to Career
LaToya is a soft-spoken, caring mother who always puts her family first. When she enrolled in Wisconsin Works, she was just about ready to give up on her job search – this all changed instantly when her team found the perfect opportunity for her to stretch her wings.
“I would go to interview after interview and still no call back for employment,” LaToya tells us. She was losing hope, when Kristina, her case manager, found an open work experience at Happy Face Apparel, a company that makes clothing and gear for special needs children. LaToya finally found an outlet for her talents and compassion. Each day, she felt more certain of herself as she discussed new possibilities with her W-2 team and found encouragement in her search.
That’s when Wendy stepped in. As an FSET Account Representative, she works directly with employers to help people find jobs. She was thrilled when she learned that LaToya had the skills that VF Corporation, one of the world’s largest apparel companies, needed. Wendy then met one-on-one with LaToya to rebuild her resume and contacted VF Corporation for an interview. “They loved her!!!” Kristina says. “She has been happily working at VF Corp and Wendy continues to follow up with the employer, and I follow up with LaToya via email.”
“With the support of Kristina, Wendy, Meghan and Lindsey, now I am able to be self-sufficient and be a part of the workforce as an independent adult,” says LaToya. She enjoys working at JanSport with VF Corporation and sees it as a chance to give her daughter the life she deserves. LaToya hopes to build her credentials so she can eventually earn a job working for the county, where she can help others in need.
Jody Turns It All Around
Jody’s story is one that any job-seeker can relate to. With a newborn and a teenager to care for, she was scrambling to find work. After weeks of searching, the weight of rejection piled up and she slipped into a deep depression. An abusive relationship made it even harder to climb out, until she saw a tiny glimmer of hope: she learned that her FoodShare benefits could help her find a job. That’s when her life started to turn around. The staff at FSC quickly helped her find more than a job – she also discovered the confidence to face anything that holds her back!
“I feel like I’m worthy now,” Jody tells us. Her FSET and Wisconsin Works teams proved right away that they truly wanted to make sure she was set up for long-term success. “I went through big time anxiety to becoming calm and having to go through therapy per my case worker which has changed my life for the better.” They helped her tackle the emotional and financial toll of unemployment, encouraged her throughout her job search, and empowered her with the resources to improve her life.
“It’s an amazing program which I have recommended to more than a few people since I have been here,” Jody insists. This fall, she’s starting a job at Guardian Insurance as a Dental Claims Approver. She loves the field and hopes to “grow within the organization and possibly move to the south,” where her newfound job will help her launch a great career. Best of all, though, she will not let anyone or anything hold her down. “Now I won’t accept any of that. All has changed for the better as I gave in and Let God!”
Zach’s Diligence Pays Off
Zach may be young, but he’s already proven himself a man of integrity. After losing his parents in his early teens, Zach had to move away from home but decided to do everything he could to keep his remaining family intact. On turning 18, he gained legal guardianship of his brother and finally moved back, where he became the sole provider for his family. Thanks to a great Work Experience through WIOA, Zach is now able to support his family with a full-time job that is funding his education at NWTC!
“Upon entering WIOA, Zach did not have a job but was attending college,” says Shelby, a Career Services Specialist with WIOA. He was determined to earn a college degree before entering the workforce, so he could start his family’s new life on the right track. “Zach is a hard worker and is never one to back down from a challenge.” says Shelby. “But above all, he is the most caring person you could ever meet and is always willing to help anyone.”
Zach wanted to get a job in his field, CNC machine operation, by the end of his second semester. Alongside the Bay Area WDB, WIOA helped him find a Work Experience as a machinist intern that turned into a paid internship while he was still in school. Zach’s skills and commitment turned this into a full-time job before he graduated with his technical degree. In fact, his employers were so impressed that they’re funding his continued education to earn his journeyman’s license this year!
Zach insists that any difficult experiences have shaped him into the person he’s become today. “I’ve used these bad experiences as a ‘what not to do’ kind of thing to encourage me to push myself as far into a good life and career as I can,” he tells us. He adds that his main barriers were always financial, “because I love what I do in my classes. I’m there because I want to learn, not because I have to be.”
That’s where resources like the Independent Living program, Oconto County Human Services, and WIOA stepped in to help cover his transportation and education. “Shelby has helped me with everything from doing my taxes, to applying for health insurance, to helping me find a job, and keeping up with everything at school. I couldn’t be more thankful.”
Congratulations, Zach! We’re excited to see where you go from here!
Amanda’s First Year as a Mom
“Amanda and I love to share all our mommy highs and lows each time we meet,” says Der Lo, a Career Planner with WIOA. Their children were born only 18 days apart, about a month after these new mothers met for the first time last September. Amanda was working 2 jobs, and she longed to earn her GED so she could find a better paying job to support her son. “Fast forward to today,” Der smiles, “she has achieved these goals and so much more!”
This team of mothers-to-be got to business right away. Amanda’s drive and personality won over interviewers, but without a diploma, family-supporting jobs were just out of reach. Without delay, they switched gears. Amanda made it her new mission to earn her GED as quickly as possible. Der helped her enroll at the College Prep Center at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, where Amanda studied non-stop before the birth of her son in October. Afterward, finding study time was a struggle, but she quickly found the perfect newborn-friendly study spot at the Salvation Army Learning Center. While he slept, she studied and continued to apply for work.
Her dedication paid off. Soon, she was again offered a job on-the-spot. By springtime, she earned her GED. Today, she’s working full-time, earned a promotion, and is enrolled in college at NTC! “She is a superwoman for raising her son all on her own and achieving all the goals she sets for herself at such a young age,” Der insists. “I am excited to see how far Amanda has come and how much she has grown personally and professionally…[Her son] is so lucky to have her as his mom!”
“I want to thank you so much,” Amanda responds. “Without you, I would not be enrolled in college looking towards a better future.” Amanda says she’d like to be a Substance Abuse Counselor one day. Congratulations, Amanda! We’re very proud of you.