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.