Ticket to Work program helped Kim get back on her feet

Kim Doctor TTW photoKim Doctor was receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, but wanted to be financially independent. She heard about the Ticket to Work program, a free and voluntary service that is available to help individuals with disabilities connect with employment services, so she went to the Conway SC Works office to learn more.

She learned that she was eligible for the Ticket to Work program and she could still receive her benefits until she was able to sustain herself. To help her re-enter the workforce, Kim and a workforce consultant created an Individualized Work Plan (IWP) that outlined and gave focus to priorities, like creating a resume in SC Works Online Services (jobs.scworks.org).

As part of her IWP she decided she start with part-time work, with the long-term goal of working full-time. She had a history of working as an office clerk and as a cashier, so she began submitting applications with several call center representative and cashier positions. In the meantime, Kim and her workforce consultant worked on her interviewing skills to help her prepare.

Kim secured an interview with Olsten Staffing as a call center representative and was later offered the position; however, because it was for temporary work, it didn’t align with her IWP so she decided to pass up that position and continue focusing on her long-term goals. She then submitted an application with Dollar General as a cashier. She was ecstatic when they called her for an interview because that position would give her the part-time work that she was seeking. Using her knowledge from the interview preparations with her workforce consultant, she aced her meeting and was offered the position.

She is now employed in a position she enjoys and continues to work with her Work Incentives Planning Assistant regional representative in order to make a smooth transition from benefit dependent to employed.

Kim said, “I think my experience with SC Works shows that the staff really cares about the people they are serving. I honestly do not think I would be employed right now without the assistance of the SC Works office.”

Get the ‘Work Search Log’ widget on your My Dashboard in SC Works Online Services

Work search requirements recently changed and in order to claim benefits you must complete two work searches each week through SC Works Online Services (SCWOS).

In order to assist you with you weekly work searches, SCWOS has a widget that you can place on your dashboard to verify the work searches that you complete each week.

To place the widget on your customizable dashboard there are a few simple steps to follow:work search widget guide 2_Page_1

work search widget guide 2_Page_2

Veteran that was once out of a job now helps other veterans in their time of need

Jason Schulz was in the Army for more than 23 years and had three tours in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq. When he retired from the military in 2014 he decided to move to Greenville, S.C. where he quickly found work.

Unfortunately the position was short-lived. Close to 10 months after being hired the company started personnel realignments in preparation for a sale and Jason and several of his coworkers were laid off.

He immediately began a new job search utilizing the tools were offered to him through the SC Works center. He used those resources to begin networking in the veteran community.

Through this process, Jason learned that, like him, many veterans have barriers to employment, and he wanted to help others having similar issues. In September 2015 he founded the Upstate Veteran Business Network. This group is dedicated to creating a meaningful and lasting network of veterans in the Upstate of South Carolina and to help current veteran-focused organizations improve their services.

Shortly after starting the Upstate Veteran Business Network, Jason met Eric McAbee, a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program (DVOP) specialist with the Spartanburg SC Works center. He was able to educate Jason on the resources available to veterans through the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW), specifically Operation Palmetto Employment (OPE). Through a partnership between DEW and the S.C. National Guard, OPE is a resource for veterans to help them find meaningful civilian careers.

He decided to attend an OPE summit, and there he heard about various employers in his area that were certified Palmetto Military Employers (PME), a certification process for employers who actively hire and retain veteran employees. One employer stood out to him the most – Cooper Standard Automotive. At the end of the event they talked about a job fair happening the following day where many of the PMEs would be attending.

He took the opportunity to go to the job fair and made sure that he met with an HR representative from Cooper Standard. He gave them his resume and began talking to them about opportunities within their company. They were looking for someone to fill production positions, a position in which he wasn’t interested, but they told him they were also looking for a Shipping and Receiving Manager, a position that had not yet been posted.

Jason was later hired as the shipping and receiving supervisor and he says that he has enjoyed the veteran friendly atmosphere of the company. He continues to work with the Upstate Veterans Business Network to help connect veterans with valuable employment and to educate them on available opportunities. He says, “The Upstate Veteran Business Network is time well spent and helps highly purpose driven veterans feel like their service to our great nation is valued by the citizens they put their lives on the line to protect.”

Was that job fair or hiring event a waste of time?


Have you ever gone to a job fair or a hiring event thinking that you were going to walk out with a job, but instead a representative told you to go home and fill out the application?

We are here to tell you that you didn’t just waste your time.

Oftentimes, HR representatives are not allowed to even touch people’s resumes or hire on the spot.

If you met with an employer at the job fair and you felt it went well and know that you were qualified for the position they were looking to fill, they probably told you to go home to fill out an application to encourage you to take the next step of the process.

If you walked away discouraged, realize there is a part of this procedure you may not have seen.

They probably wrote your name down as a qualified candidate for the position and once back in the office might look for your name in the stack of applications.

Diana Goldwire, DEW’s SC Works Area Director, says, “Do both. Apply online and come to the job fair because the job fair really gives you a foot in the door.” She continued, “At the end of each job fair we get a verbal count of people that each HR Representative saw and the number that are qualified for the position they are looking to fill.”

So the next time you are hesitant about attending the next job fair or hiring event in your area, take the plunge and go. You might just receive a call about a new job waiting for you.

Ex-Offender that was given a second chance

Keith spent 17 years in prison, and once he was released he struggled to find meaningful employment. He was repeatedly turned away from the jobs for which he applied, losing hope and becoming depressed. While completing an application with an employer, it asked him to state his experience and he wrote, “I just need someone to give me a chance.”

During one September day, Keith walked into an SC Works Center in the Lowcountry, not knowing what to expect. He began working with Michelle Adams, a workforce consultant. It was a struggle to find Keith a job, at first. Michelle had followed up with the employer that Keith had initially filled out an application with, and the employer responded, “We don’t want people like that working here.”

After several failed attempts, Michelle then called a business in Bluffton, and when she told the employer about Keith and his story, the general manager of the company told her to send him over.

They offered Keith a job because of the value they saw he would bring to the company.  Recently the employer sent an update to Michelle and said Keith is a hard worker and is doing fantastic in his new position.

After speaking with Keith, Michelle said that he is extremely happy.

Greenville Back to Work Program Graduates Seven

Mary “Ginny” Knight recalls what Back to Work coordinator Frank Floyd said to her and the other in the class on their first day: “The world has written you off.”

“The world has written us off,” she said during the Greenville Back to Work program’s first graduation ceremony held Friday, June 23. “But we will not be dismissed. We will fight for ourselves and we will keep fighting for ourselves because now we have workforce skills.”

Knight was one of seven women who completed the five-week, boot-camp style training. The Back to Work program, which is a partnership between the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, the Phoenix Center and Long Branch Baptist Church, helps the homeless and marginalized transition back into the workforce. The program teaches such skills as resume writing, interviewing, interpersonal skills and each participates takes the WorkKeys assessment test.

At the end of the program a job fair was held with the Greenville County School District, MS Companies, K&W Cafeteria, House of Raeford and Omni Staffing participating.

Ashley Carson said she entered the program because of her daughter.

“If I wouldn’t have had her, I would probably still be on the streets,” she said. “But now I know after taking WorkKeys, that 69 percent of the companies out there may be willing to hire me.”

All the women who participated in this program were residents of Serenity Place, Phoenix Center’s residential facility for women with additions and their children. At Serenity Place they are also getting the help they need to recover from substance abuse.

Celisa Patterson, the Phoenix Center’s LOTUS coordinator, knows what these women have been going through. She had a crack cocaine addiction but has been clean for the last eight years.

“People do make it out. They do succeed. They do change,” she told the women during the graduation.

Going through this program shows that they “can achieve anything. Do not let anything or anyone stop you. … I’m so proud and excited for your future,” she said.

To become involved with this program or to participate in the job fairs, contact Grey Parks at bparks@dew.sc.gov.

Goodwill helps build the community

When someone walks into a Goodwill store they are greeted with aisles of potential new treasures. What they probably don’t realize is the impact they are making by simply deciding to shop there. Money spent at Goodwill goes towards providing opportunities for jobseekers with job training programs, helping people prepare for careers and job placements that fit their skillsets.

Crystal Hardesty, Goodwill Upstate/Midlands Director of Marketing/PR says, “Goodwill is community based in that we are solely supported by the community. We assist 16 counties in South Carolina to help individuals become independent citizens.” Goodwill has been able to position themselves in a way to be easily accessed by individuals that need their services. A person can learn about the services Goodwill offers while running a daily shopping errand to pick up much needed items. Some of these services might be surprising, but a Goodwill representative is happy to assist them or figure out a more convenient time to return. While many of the services offered by Goodwill are available through other organizations, the convenience of making them available in high traffic areas is a huge benefit to users.  “One of the things that we have found to work really well is our Work Readiness Class,” Crystal continues, “If there are people that are coming into a training program they complete the class during their first week. If they are coming through from Job Connections the class is done on a less formal basis, but we are working with them on their soft skills.”

As a Community Based Organization (CBO), Goodwill not only benefits the jobseeker, but the community as a whole. Employers are engaged by the employment specialists on staff who make businesses aware of the services available. Because Goodwill is integrated within small communities the employment specialists are able to attend local meetings and find out the needs of the community.

With an extensive list of services offered, Goodwill seeks collaboration with other organizations and businesses to ensure that the community needs are met. While Goodwill is a part of several programs, there is one in particular that sticks out to Crystal; the Youth Build Greenville Grant provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. Through the grant youth are able to obtain their GED, learn construction skills and life skills. Crystal said, “This was such a momentous collaboration because there were 15 to 20 organizations that are a part of this grant from the beginning to help youth in our community succeed.” In the initial stages of the grant Greenville Revitalization Corporation helped identify a location for the program.  With a dedicated “home” the Home Builders Institute provided a trainer to teach the participants construction skills. Habitat of Humanity of Greenville County then helps them take these skills out of the classroom and apply them to the community by inviting them to participate in building houses for the community. They have been able to commit to the construction of three houses through the first iteration of the grant.  Another key partner in this grant has been Life Long Learning who has provided the kids with the tools to attain their GED’s and then presents the GEDs to them at a graduation ceremony. Throughout the grant process Goodwill has acted as the operator of the grant. Of course these are only a few of the partners that have been a part of this, all with different missions, but they have all come together to help the community.

There is no I in Team

Robert Ray - David BaileyRobert Ray had to move to South Carolina from Massachusetts in 2014 due to family issues. He had an extensive background in management, but he had a difficult time finding a job in his career field.

He eventually learned about his local SC Works center in Georgetown and the resources available to him. He went to the center to explore local employment opportunities, but after speaking to a workforce consultant and sharing his background in management, he learned about an available part-time position at the center as a greeter. With his vast amount of skills he was able to secure the job and he saw it as a rewarding experience because at the end of every interaction he knew he made a difference in someone’s life that day. After some time he used his skillsets, old and new, for the next step in his life.

Robert was excelling at his part-time position as a reliable and productive worker, and his dedication to the position did not go unnoticed. His management team at the SC Works office encouraged him to apply for a full-time position at the Conway SC Works center as the Re-Employment Services and Eligibility Assessments (RESEA) Program Assistant. After his initial interview, he was able to obtain the position, and started shortly thereafter. As the RESEA program assistant he works one-on-one with individuals to create a re-employment plan.

Robert now is in a position that he loves, and says, “I am profoundly appreciative for the DEW work environment and the willingness of my colleagues to assist me in any way possible.  They exemplify the adage that there ‘is no I in team’.”

Getting back on her own two feet

When Sydney Griffith graduated with a four-year degree from a private women’s college she hit the job market with applications and interviews, ready for her high-paying $100,000/year job she assumed she could get. It was a shock to find that reality was a bit different. Sydney reset her mindset and started a career in banking as a secretary. This job gave her endless opportunities for training to increase her skillsets, which made her the ideal candidate for promotions and ultimately worked her way up to Assistant Vice President. Life was good. She had a great salary, was married to a Senior Tax Accountant, had a country club membership and owned horses, a childhood dream

Her life took her through different job opportunities and locations until she ended up in Myrtle Beach, S.C. where she and her husband could live at the beach with their horses. Sydney thought it was the ideal life; however, right before starting her new job, Sydney’s neighbor came running over to tell her that her husband had been in a car accident. While he was alright, their only means of transportation had been wrecked and determined by the insurance company to be a total loss. When the check came in, her husband took the money and left her without a job, transportation and now a husband, she had been left with only her horses. While her previous experience had taught her the importance of savings she was chipping away at it while she struggled with seasonal employment, which is the norm for the area. She didn’t think things could get much worse until her horses were stolen, and she used the rest of her saving trying to find them, but never did.

It was just one struggle too many. Now without a job, Sydney became homeless and found herself as a chronic alcoholic and living in the woods. She kept telling herself that her situation was temporary, but a month eventually turned into four.

When she heard about New Directions, a work/stay program, and the resources that they had to offer, she decided to take the plunge and go to the homeless shelter. It turned out to be welcoming, giving her something she hadn’t had in a long time – hope.

It was a new beginning that Sydney was ready to embrace, and as part of the agreement to stay at the shelter, she had to look for work. She was willing and ready, but the odds were against her: homeless, female, older and with some employment barriers.

New Directions referred Sydney to SC Works to help with her job search. She got help with her resume, was taught how to use the SC Works Online System and, most importantly, they were always there to listen and offer career advice on a potential employment situation.

While job hunting she received a call from the New Directions Assistant Director, asking that she move from the women’s facility to their family shelter where they also wanted her to help out. At the time, she didn’t know it, but she was being tested. Shortly after she began helping at New Directions Family Shelter, the Assistant Director asked her to interview, and she was so excited she didn’t even ask what she was interviewing for. She walked into the interview in Feb. 2016 homeless and jobless, and walked out employed with housing!

Sydney was hired as the night shelter manager for New Directions Family Shelter. Now, she in turn, she is able to offer the same hope and encouragement to the homeless Family Shelter clients that was offered to her.