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.