Masako entered the extended program housing at Transitions Homeless Center in March of 2016. As a shelter actively engaged in moving individuals into stable and permanent housing, Transitions partners with many community organizations to provide the expertise and services that their clients need in order to enter and sustain an independent lifestyle.
As one of those partners, the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce works with Transitions to offer the Back to Work program; an intensive six-week employment boot camp. By providing the necessary guidance and soft skills to maintain gainful employment and self-sufficiency, the program helps individuals establish life-long independence. The combination of transitioning participants to housing as well as employment creates a comprehensive approach for long-term success.
While Masako’s journey from homelessness has certainly been a long arduous road, her journey from Transitions to employment has not. Since entering Transitions in March, she has completed the Back to Work Program, attended the Career Education & Employment Training Program offered by the Midlands Community Development Corporation, and landed a job.
Hard work and determination paid off for Masako. She was hired as a housekeeper with Wingate Hotel Industries in Columbia in July.
Since her arrival at Transitions, everyone was taken with her kindness and friendliness, but the day she was hired was new inspiration. Masako was so grateful and excited to be employed and to have a business invest in her success that everyone was touched by her show of appreciation.
Getting a job has been a life changing event for Masako. She is enjoying working for the hotel and is now setting her sights on her next goal – finding her own place to live.
With assistance from her case managers and community partners, Masako knows that she can turn employment into independence.
At 21 years old, Quinterrio Butler knew the importance of taking initiative and exhibiting a positive attitude. Unfortunately, he had a few bumps along the road before he got there. After spending some time in a correctional facility near Spartanburg, Quinterrio was released and made his way to Myrtle Beach on a Friday in April, 2015. The following Monday, he was in the SC Works office looking for any kind of assistance he could receive to put him back on the path to employment. Up until this point, he had never had a job outside of an institutional setting.
Quinterrio sat down with Mackenzie Ricard, a career development specialist in Waccamaw, who provided information on the Federal Bonding Program as well as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Mackenzie worked with him to create a resume that would highlight his skills that he learned while working within the prison institution, as well as help him strive toward his future endeavors. The two sat for a long time afterwards, discussing the importance of a good attitude and honesty and how both could lead to positive outcomes.
Quinterrio was encouraged to write a letter of explanation that clarified aspects of his past as well as his productivity since his arrest. He had no problem proving his drive. While incarcerated, Quinterrio attended multiple classes and was able to obtain his GED. He crafted a letter of explanation using templates provided to him and was able to send it off within the next two days. In such a short stretch of time, Quinterrio had equipped himself not only with a resume and letter of explanation, but a new intent on how he was going to achieve his goals.
Just 10 days after his release, Quinterrio was offered a full-time job with Emergency Landscaping and Irrigation. He was thrilled with his first civilian job, even though he was aware of the seasonal aspect of landscaping. Instead of allowing himself to become complacent during the off-season, he actively pursued positions that would keep him busy when his first job slowed down. Quinterrio used the skills and documents he crafted when he was first released to gain a full-time job with Subway, all on his own.
Quinterrio didn’t stop there. Not only has he been working steadily since April, he is also volunteering at his church through a Men’s Ministry. He hopes to use his own experiences to deter children from heading down the path he once chose.
Eric Consuegra had successfully used the resources at the SC Works Sumter location to help him find work on several occasions. However, Eric decided he wanted to start looking for a job that he could consider a career. The idea of having a career path that gave him direction, achievable goals and the focus of constantly improving a skill that could translate into better and better jobs in a particular field appealed to him.
This past March, he went back to the SC Works office to talk with a workforce consultant about how to find the right career for his personality and skill set. With their help, Eric crafted a new resume and submitted it to three different employers. Each of the companies had progressive jobs in a career track that would teach him skills that could be built upon to move up the ladder of the company. Time Warner Cable, Continental Tire and the S.C. Department of Corrections all offered him a position; more than that they offered him a career.
After much consideration, Eric decided to join the Time Warner Cable team. Within two weeks he was not only trained, but was promoted from tier 1 to tier 3.
Since being hired, Time Warner Cable has given him a company vehicle, and he is now training to be a part of the quality control division.
Eric is a great example of the benefit of having a long-term vision of employment, and a testament to the fact that the staff in the works centers can not only help people find a job, they can counsel individuals to help them secure long-term success within a career track.
Mitzi Pettigrew’s dream was to be a nurse. Unfortunately, she made some choices that almost derailed her plans. Mitzi got into trouble that would have prohibited her from obtaining a job in the medical field, but was referred to Education 2 Employment (E2E) by the pre-trial intervention program.
By working through the pre-trial intervention program and completing all of her basic requirements for E2E, Mitzi was able to have her charges dropped, which re-opened the door to nursing opportunities.
Excited over the prospect of a second chance, she registered for CNA training, but found the classes were harder than she expected. Skills like taking someone’s blood pressure made her anxious, and she began to lose faith in herself. Knowing that learning a skill is only one part of an education and that believing in yourself is another key component, career coach Stephanie McCallister decided Mitzi needed a boost. Stephanie invited Mitzi to come into the E2E center after class and practice taking the blood pressure on the staff. This more laid-back, comfortable scenario was just the setting she needed to relax, perfect her skills and begin to have confidence in her abilities. Mitzi went on to pass the blood pressure test, and then a few weeks later she passed the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) exam.
Mitzi surprised herself. She just couldn’t believe how far she had come in just a few short months. But she was not the only one! Teachers and staff at E2E saw the potential in Mitzi and knew she could accomplish her goals, she just needed to discover that success within herself. Now that she has tapped into that potential, there is no stopping her. Mitzi has decided to continue her education with Patient Care Technician (PCT) training. The training is going great, and she hopes to land a job as a Patient Care Tech in the coming months.
Mitzi’s story is a true testament to the good works of the E2E grant. There is more to success than simply going to job training or earning a credential. E2E offers the support system and encouragement our participants need to be successful.
Lionel Singleton always felt he was behind his classmates. He struggled with math and ultimately, did not graduate with a high school diploma. However, a decade later, Lionel decided he wasn’t going to let his lack of math skills be a barrier any longer.
As a 29-year-old, Lionel came to Education 2 Employment (E2E) because he was ready to earn his GED. The small class sizes offered by Adult Education not only enabled him to work one-on-one with instructors to get the help that he needed, but also allowed Lionel to find a place in the class as a leader. This school experience gave him the confidence to open up and provide guidance and academic support to his classmates. Even today, he returns to the center on a daily basis to help other students earning their GED.
Now Lionel faces another tough life challenge – he has to decide between two career paths: counseling or being an electrical engineer. But what a great problem to have!
Through this process, E2E is continuing to be a resource for Lionel. Not only is he serving as a counselor through an E2E work experience at Metanoia’s Freedom School Camp this summer near his home, he is also an E2E Student Ambassador, working to develop an after-school program for his neighborhood. He recently attended the S.C. Behavioral Health Conference and is now a part of a focus group comprised of mental health practitioners designed to provide insight on ways to correct mental health service issues in K-12 schools in South Carolina.
This fall, Lionel hopes to have an electrical apprenticeship lined up so he can try the job and see if it is the right fit.
Either way, Lionel Singleton has not only found a path from education to employment and two wonderful career opportunities along the way, he has rediscovered his confidence and has become an influential role model for others.
Dennie Ball began an extended visit to Myrtle Beach in August 2014 from Pennsylvania at the urging of her close friends who had relocated to South Carolina a few years prior. After taking a few months to get acquainted, Ms. Ball decided to create an account on SC Works Online Services to begin looking for work in the area. After creating her account, she came into the Coastal SC Works Center to receive assistance in completing her profile. She sat down with Career Development Specialist Mackenzie Ricard and worked to create a stellar resume that would draw employers’ eyes to her many talents.
With past experience in the human resources field, Ms. Ball was interested in obtaining work within her chosen profession. She and Ms. Ricard searched to locate potential positions within the region that would satisfy her desires. With very few jobs in the human resources field appearing in Horry County during the seasonal decline, this focus shifted. The two began to search for work that could broaden Ms. Ball’s existing skill sets. An opportunity arose with Olsten Staffing, who began hiring call center representatives for StarTek, a new company in the area. Having always been behind the scenes in past work experience, Ms. Ball was eager to gain skills working one-on-one with clients while providing superb customer service.
Ms. Ball was hired in November 2014 with Olsten Staffing to work for StarTek, but she maintained an understanding that the job would be temporary. Knowing the instability of temporary work assignments, Ms. Ball and Ms. Ricard continued searching for human resources positions. After much patience and perseverance, Ms. Ball applied for a position with Garden City Realty. During the waiting and interviewing stage of the hiring process Ms. Ball continued to work for Olsten. Just as one opportunity was coming to an end, she was offered a full time position as a human resources manager with Garden City Realty in January 2015 and gladly accepted.
When the Waccamaw SC Works team recently reached out to Ms. Ball, she commented: “I was very impressed by the efficiency of SC Works and the ongoing assistance provided during my job search. Ms. Ricard was wonderful to work with and an immense help in drafting my resume and bringing potential jobs to my notice. I would highly recommend job seekers to reach out to SC Works.”
Ms. Ball is happily employed and loving her work environment. Surrounded by warm and friendly coworkers, she feels as if the job was tailor-made just for her.
After two successful tours of duty in Korea and Ft. Stewart, Dehaven Williams decided to return to his home of Hartsville, South Carolina to seek employment.
He left the military with an inability to perform certain tasks that required standing for long periods of time. Mr. Williams was looking to turn the chapter on careers, and with these limitations in mind, he sought the assistance of his local Veterans staff located in the SC Works Hartsville center.
Mr. Williams explained to SC Works staff that he had developed a service related disability while serving in the military, but that he was determined to find gainful employment in the civilian workforce. Through veteran services and case management, Mr. Williams found employment at AO Smith in McBee, South Carolina, where he worked on the assembly line. Unfortunately, because this particular job required standing for long periods of time, it had the potential to make his disability worse.
With this in mind, the DVOP referred Mr. Williams to the hiring fair that was scheduled to take place at SC Works Hartsville. The event, sponsored by Palmetto Goodwill and coordinated by the LVER Keisha Bolden, proved to be the opportunity that he could take advantage of. Mr. Williams said that the Goodwill employers were impressed with his resume and character.
Within the first week of being interviewed, he received an offer from Goodwill for employment as a sales associate.
Mr. Williams says he is excited about his new position working in the receiving department and states that he hopes to soon obtain a management position.
Robert Beckworth had a complicated employment history. A former Machinist Mate with the United States Navy, Beckworth was serving a 30 year federal prison sentence when he found out he was eligible for early release. After finding himself a free man 13 years earlier than expected, he made his way to SC Works McAlister Square Greenville in November of 2015.
SCWorks center representatives evaluated Beckworth to help determine his best employment opportunities; however, he was found to have multiple Significant Barriers to Employment (SBE’s). He was referred to Disabled Veteran Outreach Program representative (DVOP) Carolyn Washington. Although he needed a place to stay, a job and basic computer skill training, Washington was impressed by Beckworth’s attitude towards life and his dedication to being successful. Despite his hurdles, he told Washington that he wanted commercial driver’s license (CDL) training in order to advance himself. Washington referred Beckworth to the Alston Wilkes Society for help with housing and to the public library for one-on-one computer training. He was referred to Laura Eggleton, who introduced him to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program. Eggleton also helped him schedule a WorkKeys® testing opportunity to identify his skillset.
He stayed diligent in his search for a job and got a position with McDonalds after attending an SC Works recruitment event. While continuing to work there for several more months, Beckworth learned in February that his application for CDL training had been approved through WIOA, covering his educational expenses. He graduated the Truck Driver Training Course just over two months later and received his CDL-A license. This month, he will be travelling to Kentucky to attend orientation for his new job with PTL Trucking Company in Greenville, SC.
In an email to Washington, Beckworth wrote “Now phase two of my life starts.” He is grateful for a second chance to be a productive citizen. Because of the teamwork between the SCDEW Veterans Outreach Office and the SC Works WIOA program, he has been given another opportunity to succeed.
When Yetzibel Santos first arrived in America, she was shy, sad, and didn’t speak any English. She and her family moved to the United States when she was 7-years-old in hopes of a better life. However, the language barrier made it very hard for her family to find fair housing, and they were frequently taken advantage of without the means to defend themselves.
Fast forward to today and Yetzibel Santos is someone completely different. Now she is the recipient of the JAG Executive Director Award, the state Governor’s Award, and is the Cayce West Columbia Rotary Club’s Student of the Month for April 2016. She has spent the last year as the Career Association President of JAG, serving as a model of energy and motivation for her fellow students. Santos is described by her JAG coordinator as a “courageous young lady who has not only overcome unimaginable circumstances just to survive, but has also managed to leave an indelible mark on the world as she successfully approaches her high school graduation.”
JAG stands for Jobs for America’s Graduates, a program coordinated by DEW and designed to prevent students from dropping out of high school as well as teach them necessary workforce skills. Some of these skills include how to interview, how to dress properly for the job, how to be on time, as well as other good work habits. A major turning point for Santos’ self-awareness happened while in the JAG program. Santos stepped up to translate and advocate for her family when they were about to lose their home. She used her leadership skills to help them get the representation they needed.
“They saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself,” Santos said in an interview last September on her experience in JAG.
JAG students at Swansea High School run the food bank for the district which has a high prevalence of minority, working class and poor residents. The JAG food bank aids some of the district’s students and their families who may not have enough to eat at home. When Santos first saw the JAG food bank she was inspired and knew that someday she wanted to be the one running the show. For the past four years the Swansea High School Food Pantry has been Yetzibel’s passion.
Santos was previously featured in the September 2015 DEWsletter for her extraordinary growth in the JAG program. Once an at-risk student, Santos is now a soon-to-be graduate as well as a role model for her community. DEW is excited for Santos’s accomplishments and looks forward to hearing more of her successes in the future.
On June of 2015, John Rice came to the Florence SC Works Center depressed. He had recently been released by his doctor to work, but had been on disability insurance for 12 years and wasn’t sure how to start. He initially did not want the assistance of a veteran representative because he had only served nine months in the U.S. Navy at age 17 before being honorably discharged. He felt he did not deserve the “veteran” title. Sheila Glenn, DVOP, introduced herself to John, explaining veteran services and why his military service did indeed deserve the veteran privileges offered by DEW, regardless of the amount of time in the Navy.
John was concerned because he only had experience in construction and could no longer do that type of work due to his medical conditions. He had to make a career change, but did not have a high school diploma or GED.
At first, his main focus was to find work immediately. The center helped him create a resume, and he was referred to employers that did not require a high school diploma and would accept his current skill set.
After a few months with no progress, he realized how important it was to have a high school diploma or GED. John was referred to Darlington County Adult Ed and was led through the process to set-up accounts for AZTEC, a GED practice test, and Career Ready 101, a practice WorkKeys® test. John started the GED program in September 2015 and received his GED certificate in December 2015. He took the WorkKeys® test and passed at the gold level.
That same month SC Works contacted Olsten Staffing regarding John’s test scores and inquired if there was any way to get him placed at Honda of SC. John reported to Olsten Staffing the same morning with the required paperwork and was called back before the holidays to start work the first part of January 2016.
John said he didn’t think he would have made the decision to go back to school if it wasn’t for Sheila Glenn’s encouragement and how he would not have been able to get the job without his GED. John is appreciative and feels indebted to Sheila for all that she has done to motivate and help him get back in the workforce after 12 years.