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.

Going the extra smile

ats1Ashton Taylor Sullivan had limited employability skills and was only able to find work waitressing part-time, barely making ends meet. She enrolled as a participant with the ResCare Workforce Services WIOA Out of School Youth Program once she graduated high school.

Through the help of her talent engagement specialist and talent development facilitator with the program, Ashton decided that she wanted to become a Dental Assistant and eventually work in an orthodontics office.

To improve her employability skills, Ashton attended work-readiness sessions to better prepare herself for the workforce. To gain the critical skills she needed, she enrolled and began classes at the Palmetto School of Career Development, a school that provides entry-level career courses to become certified in specific career paths. Through her training, she became certified in chairside dental assisting, OSHA and radiation safety.

Only a month after she became certified, she began working with Victory Dental Center and began developing the entry-level experience that she needed to advance her career. However,she wanted to be closer to home. Having the education and work skills she needed, Ashton was able to find employment that suited her situation when she got a job with Kids First Dental. This position is not only closer to her home, it allows her to work full-time while completing her degree at York Technical College.

It’s all about the skills that you have

hmHaden loves working with computers and has a natural IT ability. In fact, one of his favorite past times is to take them apart and put them back together, learning the intricacies of the machine, how it works and how to fix it.

Haden came to the WIOA Youth program in September 2016, with a high school diploma and having maxed out his Test of Adult Basic Education test with Adult Education which measures a student’s skills and aptitudes in reading, math and English. While he is extremely intelligent, Haden is also autistic and struggles with basic social interactions. He was looking for work because he assumed employment was the next step after education. And he is correct.

Because of his affinity for and expertise in IT, Haden was interested in finding work in that industry. In November 2016, the WIOA Youth program connected him with Net Solutions Technology Center, an IT company that services computers for industries such as doctor’s offices, law offices and manufacturing businesses, including installation, monitoring, support and upgrades. They also offer computer training and repair. Net Solutions interviewed Haden for a help desk attendant. Although nervous and apprehensive about the interview, Haden did well and was hired.

Helping him bridge the gap between his computer knowledge and the job requirement of social interaction, the staff at Net Solutions not only worked with him on basic computer troubleshooting, repairs and programming, they have helped guide him through questions and answers for some of the most common interactions with customers.

Haden has shown great potential and has developed additional social skills that help him work with the staff and flourish in the work environment. He has also been given additional tasks related to beta testing, an area where staff believe he may do well.

By looking at his knowledge base, potential for growth and skillset, Net Solutions was able to fill a position with a quality employee that, under their instruction, continues to improve, progress and add value to the business.

Getting a second chance

jmWhen Jason Mongillo was first released from jail, he didn’t know where to begin. He got assistance from the SC Works center in Florence and learned about the Federal Bonding program. This program offers employers the confidence to give second chances to ex-offenders by providing a bond as an insurance policy. In turn it helps eliminate a significant barrier to employment for individuals who may possess very employable job skills. Jason was so excited about this opportunity that he immediately began his own work search; however, without completing the program, he didn’t have all of the pieces he needed to successfully search for work on his own.

After several attempts, Jason came back to the center for employment assistance and ready to complete the Federal Bonding program to the end.

With the help of his workforce consultant, he was provided all of the necessary tools and preparation for employment. This included having his resume reviewed and talking through his letter of explanation that offered potential employers a brief look into his past and his efforts to change his future. This letter is meant to give employers a sense of ease and confidence in their hiring decisions. Prior to going to any interviews he was also equipped with several Federal Bonding vouchers as a hiring incentive for suitable employers.

When he began the work search process he made his vouchers available and through his perseverance and willingness to be upfront about his past, he was hired almost immediately at CiCi’s Pizza as a manager in training.

Through the Federal Bonding Program Jason was given the confidence he needed to obtain employment and the ability to get back on his own two feet after going through some adversity.

A new career change

IMG_20160811_144435Constance Sharp had been out of a job for some time and she felt that her age was deterring her success.

Constance found out about the AARP 50+ program that is offered at many SC Works centers. BACK TO WORK 50+ connects struggling Americans 50+ with the information, support, training and employer access they need to regain employment, advance in the workforce, and build financial capability and resiliency to prevent them from slipping into poverty later in life.

She wanted a new skill set so that she could make a career change from her previous work experience.

After applying for one of AARP’s scholarships, Constance received financial assistance to attend Tri-County Technical College to further her education. The program offered many wonderful opportunities, but she chose to pursue the Patient Access Specialist program which would create multiple entry level opportunities available in a hospital patient-access department, assisting with registrations, insurance verification, scheduling, financial counseling and more. With the help of her Career Coach at the SC Works center and the AARP program she started preparing for interviews and was taught new skills that she would need for this career change, like bolstering her computer skills.

Through her classes, counseling, job fairs and goal planning, Constance started becoming more prepared and more confident in her ability to start a new career.

After the completion of her classes, she attended a job fair at the Anderson Mall and was offered a job with Anderson Disability and Special Needs. Not only has she continued her education at Tri-County Technical College to keep her skills current, she also took her State Certification in late October, and she has set a course for a whole new career, despite the “challenge” of her age

Hannah Adams beats all the odds

Hannah and StakeholdersWhen Hannah Adams’ watched her daughter, Khloe, blow out her birthday candles on her first birthday, she suddenly realized how quickly time was passing. Hannah knew that if she didn’t get serious about her goals, her daughter might have a difficult childhood like she did. It was time to make changes to give Khloe a chance at a better life, so she turned to Eckerd’s Palmetto Youth Connections program for help.

Growing up wasn’t easy for Hannah. Her mother was a drug addict so she stopped going to school in the 7th grade to stay home and help care for her two younger siblings. At 14 Hannah got pregnant and, what’s worse, lived in a prostitution house. Police raided the home, and Hannah was taken into DSS custody. She ended up at New Horizons, a home for pregnant and parenting teenage girls, in Summerton, South Carolina.

It was through New Horizons that Hannah first heard about Eckerd’s Palmetto Youth Connections Program (PYC) Designed to educate, train and support youth as they prepare to enter the workforce, PYC emphasizes hands-on development in academic and job-training services. When Hannah enrolled in the program in April 2015, her initial assessments showed an 8th grade reading level and 5th grade math level. She knew that getting her GED would be a long journey. But once she got started, her natural intelligence began to shine. After just one month she told her teachers she felt she was ready for the GED. When she got the results, Hannah cried; she had passed the test and earned her GED!

The next step on Hannah’s journey was to earn an occupational skills credential in the hope she would earn a job to support herself and her child. Through her older brother, who she considers a best friend and a mentor, Hannah was exposed to the welding trade. She was interested in learning welding, but the only school that offered the training was an hour from New Horizons. Because she didn’t have a car and the residential facility had limited options to assist with transportation, Eckerd PYC stepped in to help for 13 weeks, arranging transportation for the hour commute to welding school.

As the only female in the class, she had to set boundaries early on and establish that she wasn’t interested in distractions with her classmates. Through her dedication and hard work she learned the welding skills she needed to earn her certificate.

With her new skillset Hannah had the opportunity to continue to work with PYC to gain hands-on training through their work-based learning program. Caterpillar agreed to allow Hannah to complete her welding training at their company, but transportation continued to be a barrier. PYC was determined to help her keep her momentum of success so they contributed the last of their support services limit for a Hannah’s case to make sure she had transportation to and from Caterpillar

Despite the budget limitations, PYC found another opportunity. On her behalf, PYC applied for the Success Award through the Eckerd Foundation. The application was a breeze considering all that Hannah had accomplished for herself and Khole in just two years. The hope was for her to receive the financial award to buy her very own car.

With glowing recommendations, Hannah was selected, and PYC immediately started working with a local car dealership to surprise her. She was so excited, and now, with the car, Hannah has the necessary resources to continue her training and to make sure that hers and Khloe’s future is bright.

Receiving Service for a Life of Service

Sarah Weaver photoSenior Master Sergeant Sarah Weaver served 30 years in the United States Air Force and earned her Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership. In May 2014, after retiring from the Air Force, Sarah and her husband moved to Seneca, S.C.

Sarah obtained a part-time position with the United States Postal Service, but wanted to concentrate on her area of expertise, administration. Looking for veteran’s assistance, Sarah sought out her nearest SC Works center help her achieve her goal. SMSgt Weaver was referred to Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) representative Susan Stockton, who quickly helped her in her search for employment. SMSgt Weaver joined the Senece SC Works team itself as a Resource Specialist through VA Vocational Rehabilitation Department Chapter 31 for two months while securing a full-time position at Clemson University as a Coordinator of Administrative Support Services in Counseling and Physiological Services.

SMSgt Weaver stated, “SCWorks greatly contributed to my success in obtaining employment with Clemson University.  It is one thing making it through the application tracking system, but the hardest part is preparing for the interview and following-up after the interview. Silissa (Si) Bischof, the Career Development Specialist at SCWorks, played a significant role in helping me land the job. She helped me research not only the University but the department in which I would be working.  She also gave me invaluable advice in writing my thank-you notes and follow-up e-mails. Si has coached me throughout the entire process, and I will always be deeply grateful for her astute guidance and kindness. It is because of Si and SCWorks that I was able to succeed in obtaining employment. Susan Stockton, my Vet Rep, was also extremely helpful. I often sought her out for her expert knowledge and counsel which were always very helpful to me throughout my time at SCWorks. Susan truly cares about veterans and it shows in everything she does. I will forever be thankful she was my Vet Rep.”

Russell Anderson finds employment opportunities

Russell Anderson was bullied throughout high school because of a physical disability, but he never allowed that to impact his confidence and desire to be a successful member of the workforce and community.

In an effort to find a job, he began working with the S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Department. From there, his workforce consultant referred him to the North Charleston Education 2 Employment (E2E) grant. E2E provides access to high-quality job training and employment services for youth and adults in North Charleston. The program prepares participants for careers through short-term occupational skill-training and paid work experience in high-growth industries.

Because Russell loved to work with computers, he was offered an opportunity to begin CompTIA training, which ensures common understanding of hardware and software programs necessary to support complex IT infrastructures. He received an A+ certification in this training, offered at Productivity Solutions and Training and is now working on receiving his Network+ certification.

In addition to computers, Russell is also interested in a broadcasting career. E2E staff started working with a career coach at Palmetto Youth Connections who used to be a radio broadcaster to develop potential work experience. Russell hopes to utilize the computer skills he’s gained through his certifications and programs, and his love of music to create a dynamic career for himself.

To give back to a program that has been successful at helping him into the workforce, Russell has since become an E2E ambassador and recently participated in the S.C. Behavioral Health Conference.

SC Works Hartsville helps Army veteran start new career

Dehaven Williams successfully completed two tours of duty in Ft. Stewart, GA and then Korea before returning home to Hartsville, GA to seek employment.

Because Mr. Williams left the military with a service-related disability that prohibits him from performing certain tasks that require prolonged standing, he was concerned about his options in the job market.

He reached out to the veterans staff in the SC Works Hartsville center. Through veteran services and case management he was offered a position with AO Smith in McBee, a leading manufacturer of residential and commercial water heaters. Unfortunately, it turned out this position required long periods of standing which had the potential of making Mr. Williams disability worse.

Determined to find successful civilian employment, Mr. Williams talked further with a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program (DVOP) at the Hartsville work center. The DVOP referred him to a local hiring fair sponsored by Palmetto Goodwill and was coordinated by Local Veteran’s Employment Representative (LVER), Keisha Bolden.

Goodwill employers were impressed by his resume, character and flawless interview. Only one week later he received an offer of employment as a sales associate.

Mr. Williams says that he is excited about his new position and has set his goals toward a future management position.