Kimberly Hill had just lost her husband at a very young age and was left as a single mother of 3 teenage children. She had not worked for many years and now had to find a job. Her husband had always provided for their family. She was heartbroken and scared as to how they were going to make it. One of her friends told her to check with WADI because we had a program that could help her go back to school and learn a new trade or profession to find a job. She met with our Career Planner Sandra Sanders at the Wayne County Office, and they discussed her options. She was unsure what she wanted to do. Sandra asked me to speak with her about LIHEAP.
When speaking to her, I saw what a compassionate and intelligent person she was. We did assist her with LIHEAP and gave her fliers about our other programs. Sandra and I talked and agreed that she would be a good candidate for the WIOA Work Experience Worker here at our office. She accepted the position and has been working here for about six (6) months. With the increase in applications and services since COVID-19, it has become apparent that we need an Outreach Worker for the Wayne County office. Kimberly applied and was offered the full-time position.
Kimberly has gained so much self-confidence and independence in her Work Experience position these past six (6) months. She has grown in her clerical skills and attention to detail. We feel she is a great advocate and asset to the WADI family.
Katelyn Power is a Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) success story. She moved to Southern Illinois from Virginia last year and struggled with homelessness. Katelyn moved in with a family from Gallatin County, and the mom of that family is an employee in Head Start. Katelyn found an apartment but had to maintain two (2) jobs to pay rent and other bills. Neither of the two jobs was fitting for her and would not suffice for permanent employment. She was referred to WADI’s WIOA Work Experience program and gained employment as an Office Assistant. This opportunity allowed her to discontinue the other two jobs and achieve the employment skills needed to move forward. During her Work Experience at WADI, she learned more in-depth about the Head Start program. A Head Start position became vacant in the Center for a bus monitor/classroom aide, and Katelyn took that opportunity to apply. She now has permanent employment with solid benefits. Katelyn knows she will love the Community Action Team at WADI and the opportunity to help others.
I first met Tresel back in early January 2020 just before the country shut down because of COVID-19. Tresel was a referral from a case worker at the Hesed House which is a homeless shelter where Tresel was staying with his mom Stephanie and little sister Trista. The family had experienced a hardship that left them homeless and without a car which made it difficult for the family to get around. Tresel had expressed in interest with earning his GED credential, but didn’t have a way to getting to our center for GED classroom training. When I mentioned that Central States SER has supportive services available that would pay for customer’s transportation to attend GED training at our center he was elated and eager to start.
Once supportive services were provided and the schedule for PACE services were established Tresel attended GED classroom training as scheduled. Tresel is very shy and doesn’t talk much, but was able to ask questions about the lessons. Tresel was able to complete Reading & Language Arts with Central States SER and took his GED exam on 2/14/2020 where he scored a 162. After passing the R & LA GED exam he then took on Science as his next subject, but was not able to complete as there was a mandatory state wide shutdown to reduce the infection of COVID-19.
In an effort for Tresel to continue with his lessons I offered remote learning where he would have access to online materials and resources to help with his studies in lieu of classroom instruction. Tresel agreed, but did not have a computer to work on his lessons. I then provided Tresel with an Android Tablet and access to i-Pathways where he can continue with studying for the GED exam. Tresel was active and completed all his Science and Social Studies lessons through i-Pathways, but was not able to test for the GED because of the COVID-19 shutdown.
In late August Tresel’s mom decided to relocate to the state of Florida where she had family as she was struggling to find employment and not having a car made it even more challenging. Once Tresel was situated in Ft. Myers, Florida I then began to help Tresel with identifying a WIOA Youth Provider near his home. I reached out to Mrs. Roberts who is the Program Manager at the career center and explained Tresel’s situation and continued interest to pursue his GED goal. With the help of Mrs. Roberts Tresel was able to complete his GED preparation training.
The hard work and determination from Tresel was awarded by earning his High School Diploma on April 5th 2021, from the Department of Education in the state of Florida. Tresel earned his HS Diploma instead of the GED credential because he scored as follows per subject: R&LA=170, Social Studies=166, Science=167 and Math=156. All scores are GED College Ready scores which earned Tresel his High School Diploma.
Now that Tresel has his High School Diploma he plans to enlist in the US Navy. Central States SER is proud to having been involved with the impact of Tresel’s life and wish him and his family the best of luck. -Jose Zambrano, Program Coordinator for Central States SER in Aurora
Juan grew up in the Little Village area of Chicago and also in the towns of Cicero and Berwyn, where he currently resides. He learned the value of hard work since the age of 12, when he would help his father train horses at Hawthorne Park. His parents were separated and he was always concerned about the well-being and future of his mother. Juan started working regularly in his sophomore year in high school to help his mother. He was tempted to quit school, but knew that if he did not finish high school, his prospects for a good job would be greatly diminished. So he pushed himself to the finish line and graduated from Morton West High School in 2019.
Upon graduation, he enrolled in a technical institute to become a diesel mechanic, but he soon realized that that field was not his passion. He heard about an Electrical Pre-apprenticeship program that was offered by HACIA (the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association) and St. Augustine College’s Institute for Workforce Education. He enrolled and successfully completed this program, which is designed to prepare participants for jobs and entrance into apprenticeship programs in the construction trades, particularly in the electrical field. This program prepares participants to successfully perform the tasks required of an Entry Level Electrical Trades Member.
In this program, he developed his self-confidence and skills that helped him land a job with Blue Spark Electric, an electrical company that provides electrical services to the commercial, industrial, residential, retail and hospitality sectors.
“I was a bit discouraged before and this program was heaven-sent. Right away, I realized that my interest in electricity was not a just a child’s infatuation, but my passion. I enjoyed the learning process and, upon graduation, I was able to get a great job with an opportunity to develop and reach my goal of becoming a fully licensed electrician”, stated Juan. He is grateful for the window of opportunity that this program has opened for him. “Thanks to this program, my future, and my mom’s future is looking brighter than ever”, he added.