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Carmen Frias

Jeremy Lenowitz

I had been having lots of trouble finding work and keeping my life together. I was not getting along with my family, and was arrested a few times. I had been a parking valet, which I liked, but with my record, I wasn’t able to keep that job. Luckily, after my final arrest, the court saw that there was a deeper problem that I was dealing with, and sent me to a doctor. I was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.

Because of my condition, I was sent to the Department of Rehabilitation, and entered their Supported Employment & Education Services program. I knew that if I had kitchen skills and certification, I would have a lot of opportunity to find permanent work. I also enjoyed cooking, so it seemed a good fit.

I was offered enrollment in Goodwill’s Culinary Arts Program. I knew it would take about five months, and would give me a ServSafe Certification, which I would need to work and move up in the food service industry. When I arrived, I was a little unsure at first, but I soon saw that there were several other students there who were dealing with their own problems as well. It became a comfortable place, and I enjoyed working in the kitchen with Chef Luis. His skills were really impressive, and I wanted to start practicing so I could eventually do what he could.

After the program ended, I felt confident in my skills, but not as much in my ability to get and hold a job. But Manuela and Luis kept working with me and connecting me with local restaurants. In the end, I was hired at two separate restaurants.

Right now, I’m working as the Prep Cook at Jeninni’s Kitchen + Bar in Pacific Grove. It’s a great place for me to keep practicing my skills, but I’m keeping my eye on moving up to Sautee Cook. It’s great to have a goal to focus on, and skills that I can be proud of.

Lane Hughes

Lane Hughes came to Goodwill though the Re-Entry (AB 109) Employment program last December 2016. Lane had been working at the County Jail Honor Farm and doing kitchen preparation work at Breaking Bread Bakery. He had been incarcerated for many years and wanted to change his life for the better and create a pathway that will lead away from his past. When Lane was released, he was offered an opportunity to learn how to become an assistant manager at Breaking Bread Bakery. Mark and Glenna, the owners of Breaking Bread,  were willing to train him for an assistant management position and keep him on as a long term employee.

Lane had never really wanted to ask for help or allow a program to assist him. However, once he connected with Goodwill staff, he learned how others had benefited from training programs and realized he could reach his own goals with the help of these same programs. Lane enrolled into the On-the-Job (OJT) training program and accepted the challenge of learning how to set goals and meet objectives. His OJT plan helped him gain the skills to become an assistant manager and an artesian bread and pastry baker.

Lane now knows how to run the bakery and is proud of his accomplishments including new skills in management, administration, and computer proficiency in programs including Excel. He feels he met all of his objections and exceeded his goals. Lane said that three months ago he didn’t know how or when he was going to get out of jail and what his plans would be for his future. Goodwill helped Lane accomplish his goals and now he is able to set new ones for himself to continue on building his prosperity. Lane stated “anyone else out there like me, I encourage you to take a step, to TRUST the process, let go of thinking it won’t work for you because I’m proof it did. I went from $11.00 per hour to now $17.75 an hour – working full time and overtime. I’m very proud of myself. I’m doing it, and it feels so good!”

efrainphoto

Efrain Alejo

When I was 15 I started working in the fields of Watsonville. It is very hard work, with long hours, and often times can be stressful. Though I was grateful for the work, I knew deep down  that I could do and be so much more. I heard about the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act program (at that time it was still called Workforce Investment Act), and how they could help people get trained and get started in a new career. That sounded exactly like the kind of help I needed, so I went to an orientation to learn more about the program and was assigned a career advisor named Rosie. We spoke about my ambitions and I shared my desire to become a barber.
My Mom owns a hair salon in Watsonville; so naturally, being around the salon over the years sparked my interest in learning how to cut hair. When I started, Rosie told me that there was no barbering program the WIOA was supporting, however, that didn’t stop Rosie! She went the extra mile and was able to get my program approved since I had a job lined up at my Mom’s salon and a good plan to build my business.
There definitely have been bumps in the road but the journey has been worth it! Not only have I learned hair cutting skills, but I have also learned great customer service, more about business, finances, and how much a person can accomplish if they just put their mind to it. It has helped so much to have the help of Goodwill and the WIOA program. I started working with a new career advisor, Lisa Kleinfeldt. She has helped me see this program through to the end and was very supportive when I hit a couple of rough patches near the end.
Lisa and I recently talked about my plans for the future. I told her I can’t wait to start working at my mom’s salon but I have bigger dreams. I want to run my own barbering business and the skills I learned at Goodwill will definitely help get me there! When Lisa asked me if I had a story to tell about my experiences with training and Goodwill, I was more than happy to talk about my journey. I truly believe that both Goodwill and the WIOA program have changed my life!

 

BRENDA

Brenda Delgadillo

When Brenda Delgadillo’s Employment Training Specialist (ETS) referred her to Goodwill’s Job Search Workshop she had her doubts. Delgadillo had a resume ready to go out to employers, so she did not see the benefit of attending a Job Search Workshop. After some convincing, her ETS introduced her to Sandra Diaz, the workshop leader, and her mind was completely changed. Sandra’s enthusiasm and motivation was contagious and Brenda quickly saw herself in Diaz’s classroom.

Brenda set her sights to the medical profession and got to work. With the help of Sandra, she worked on budgeting, interview skills and built up the confidence to apply for jobs she wouldn’t have before. Sandra became a mentor to Brenda and gave her the extra push when Brenda needed it most. Soon, Brenda overcame her fear of rejection and learned that persistence pays off. She reached her goal and got hired as a medical assistant. Now she set another goal to get her phlebotomy certification and further her professional achievements. Goodwill gave Brenda the tools and knowledge she needed to overcome her fear of failure and accomplish her goals. Her advice to job seekers is to “throw away the fear and if you fall get back up and try again!”

 

patricia-mares

Patricia Mares

As an immigrant with little work experience Patricia Mares thought she had little opportunity in the American work force. With the need to provide for her 2 children on a single income, Patricia gained employment at a restaurant where she stayed for 11 years. When the restaurant shut down Patricia needed a fresh start. She turned to the Department of Social Services who referred her the Expanded Subsidized Employment/ Organizational Work Program at Goodwill Central Coast.

Patricia was excited for the opportunity to participate in GCC’s programs and learn new skills she can add to her resume. With help from her Employment Services Specialist, Lupe Solis, Patricia gained the confidence to apply for full-time employment and was hired right as she completed her 16 week program. Since, Patricia has improved her communication skills and looks forward to learning all she can so that she can move forward into a leadership role. “I feel happy with this opportunity. I enjoy having all the perks of working for Goodwill that I didn’t have before. I enjoy working and I get to enjoy the time off with my family.” Goodwill Central Coast has opened the door to Patricia’s professional growth and has given her the opportunity to have a more happy and balanced life.

jon-vatow

Jon Votaw

Jon Votaw relied on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the age of 14 into adulthood, but had dreams of supporting himself as a truck driver. More than anything he wanted to earn a sustainable wage and no longer be dependent on public assistance.

At first, Jon thought he’d never be able to achieve his goals because the cost of training and obtaining a Class A license were just too much for him to afford on SSI income. Luckily, a friend who drove trucks directed him to Goodwill’s San Luis Obispo Career Center and with the help of friendly staff, Jon completed all workshops, career counseling, and assessments. Goodwill helped place him in a truck driving program where he earned his Class A driver’s license and found a job.

A big part of Jon’s success was due to his case manager’s constant encouragement throughout the workshops. “ ‘The you can do this, you can reach your dream’ is what kept me going,” says Jon. “Because of Goodwill, I now feel in control of my own life. I am so happy I walked in that door and was given the opportunity to be where I am now.”

 

john-clarkJohn Clark

John is a single father of two children and currently lives in a shelter in Los Osos. With the help of Goodwill he is trying to find stable housing and is making huge strides in his work. In addition to the challenges of being a single parent without stable housing, John is also on the path to alcohol recovery, but he hasn’t let any of this prevent him from reaching his goals at work.

John went from working in CalWorks’ Occupational Work Program to on-the-job training (OJT) as a Maintenance Technician with Hydro Heaven Spas in San Luis Obispo. John proved he could be a valuable employee, despite his challenging circumstances. He maintained a 30-35 hour work week and never once missed a day, even while caring for his children.

After John finished his 24 weeks of OJT at Hydro Heaven, he was hired on as a permanent employee and his pay increased from $9.00 to $13.00 per hour. John’s new job pays well enough that he can provide better care for his children. He also feels valued at work and he enjoys what he does. “I have a ways to go,” John says, “but I’m not giving up.”

An interview with John

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO GOODWILL?

In 2008 I was an out-of-work parent on welfare. I was referred to the OWP program through an Employment Services Specialist DSS sometime way later. I needed to get myself back into the workforce. I was not happy about the process. I thought of Goodwill in a negative way but I needed to be responsible. I needed to do this for my kids and myself.

HOW OPEN WERE YOU AT FIRST TO RECEIVING SERVICES FROM GOODWILL AND WHY?

I was very skeptical and negative because I thought I was at a higher level, and I felt like Goodwill was low-level. I thought I was above anything Goodwill would have to offer. My original opinion was very wrong because everything I was doing was actually not working. I needed help. I did not foresee or imagine all the help I would be receiving.

WHAT EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION, AND LIFE GOALS HAVE YOU SET FOR YOURSELF?

My goals are simple and straightforward: To maintain stable employment and find stable housing – I’m still working on the housing. My last goal is to get completely on my feet is. I need suitable housing for my kids and myself so I can finish raising my family. I love the simple life; a small apartment with the basics is what I’m working on, and to set a good example.

You would have not liked me 14 months ago. I was an angry, not very nice person. I’ve changed for the better because Goodwill gave me the tools I needed. They helped me get my confidence back while I worked in the Goodwill warehouse, and then they helped me get into the job I currently have kept since last February as a maintenance technician.

I have had two pay increases and have gained the respect from my employer. I feel I’m valuable now to him and to myself. I really enjoy working for my employer. I know I can and will keep going.

WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS SINCE YOU HAVE WORK WITH GOODWILL?

It allowed me to get back into the workforce. I feel like I’m contributing to society and making a difference with my kids. I also got my children back – I have to back up to say this was my biggest accomplishment. Getting back into the workforce helped me get my kids back.

OVERALL, HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH GOODWILL MADE AN IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?

I gained full-time stable work. I quit drinking. I gained self-respect and self-esteem. Overall, I mostly gained a better attitude. It allowed me to grow up mentally, and I needed to grow up.

WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED?

To actually listen. To close my mouth and just listen. That was hard for me for so long. I was always saying something I shouldn’t say, and with a very bad attitude. I still work on that daily. I’m getting better because — I can’t say this enough — I learned how to listen. I wish I would have learned that a long time ago. I still say this to myself daily. When I started listening to the help I was being offered through Goodwill and stuck with it, that’s when my life began to change for the better.

 

kahyla-ryhmeKayla Rhyne

A single mother of a little girl, Kayla Rhyne had to leave her job in the caregiving industry due to health issues. Unemployed and unable to keep stable housing, her case worker from Social Services referred her to the Extended Subsidized Employment (ESE) program in February 2015. Kayla was hesitant to start working at Goodwill – she was struggling with health issues, the loss of her mother, as well as other family issues. These major issues in her life were a huge barrier to her committing to a 30 hour a week job but she enrolled in training anyway.

Kayla wasn’t interested in retail, so she was placed at the main plant in San Luis Obispo as a processor for the warehouse. Salome, the skills trainer at the warehouse, became her mentor. She shared all her knowledge about the job with Kayla, motivating her to succeed. She offered Kayla support and encouragement, not just for the job but also for her personal life. “Salome played a role in helping me overcome my family problems,” says Kayla. “She motivated me to be the best version of me.”

Overall Kayla’s experience working for Goodwill has been life changing. “I was in a really dark place when I first started here,” she says, “but working for Goodwill has helped me build my confidence and showed me that as long as I work hard, I can do anything I set my mind to.”

Kayla thrives in the fast paced environment of the warehouse. She’s learned that she can take initiative and be a leader. This job has given her the boost in confidence and self-esteem that she was lacking. “I’ve learned to push myself and to always learn new things and never stop growing,” says Kayla. “My goals seem much more plausible now.”

The most important lesson Kayla has learned is to never give up on life. She would advise other people that are in the program to “never give up and work hard because hard work pays off. It’s a slow process but eventually you’ll succeed.”

Kayla plants to explore other positions within Goodwill. She hopes to move up within the company and eventually settle down and have a place of her own.

charles-earleCharles Earle

After my release from a 10-year prison sentence, my life was quickly falling out of my hands and reality was no longer in my reach. I felt helpless and needed to find a way out of the despair and provide security and stability for my children. I desperately searched for someone or something to help me out of the major hole I found myself in.

I was referred to Goodwill Central Coast where I would participate in the Organizational Work Program. While in the program, I met Vanessa Estrada, a phenomenal and professional woman who identified my strengths, potentials and abilities. Furthermore, she built my self-esteem and confidence.

As a program participant, I began working as an administrative assistant for Goodwill’s Career Center in Salinas, CA. At this point, I began to fall in love with the position and develop a great admiration for Goodwill’s mission. For the first time in my life, I was able to believe in a non-profit’s mission, just as Goodwill had believed in me by providing me the opportunity to work. After one month of working in the organizational work program, Goodwill hired me on as a full-time employee. I felt a sense of belonging which has led to excellent employee performance.

Today, as a husband and father of 5 children, I am blessed and able to provide stability to my life and family. I expect to graduate from California State University of Monterey Bay this December and I am a proud employee of Goodwill Central Coast.