Lisa Says: You Can Too!

Lisa devotes herself wholeheartedly to everything she does. When she married and started her family, she set her career aside and focused on being a great mom. She had two children and was pregnant with her third when the unthinkable happened: her beloved husband passed away. Suddenly widowed, and missing the family’s sole provider, she says that she quickly hit rock bottom. But she knew she couldn’t stay there because her family was relying on her.

The first thing Lisa did was reach out for advice. A group on Facebook encouraged her to try Wisconsin Works. Wasting no time, she stopped in at our office to explore her options.

While she has a degree in medical office administration, she didn’t get a chance to use it much before becoming a full-time mom. Our Office Professionals course was exactly what she needed to brush up on her office know-how. Her team helped her arrange necessities like childcare and transportation, so she could succeed during training. They also helped set up a volunteer experience with World Headquarters to get additional hands-on practice in an office environment.

During graduation, she said that she wants others to hear her story, so they know that if she can do it, they can too. “I want people to know that this can happen to anyone,” she said, “but you will be okay.”

Lisa’s baby girl has arrived safely, if a bit early. They’ll be bonding during maternity leave for the upcoming weeks, with welcome support from W-2. She’s looking forward to starting an office career once it’s over, though, and is eager to put her skills to work.

Congratulations, Lisa! We can’t wait to see you and baby in the office soon!

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Katrina’s Breathing Easy

It turns out that unemployment ended up being the opportunity Katrina has waited a lifetime for. When her employer went out of business, the future looked scary to this single mother of 2 because unemployment wasn’t going to cut it. While applying for these benefits at the local job center, however, she also learned about a program called WIOA which could help her get the training for a new career. Before she knew it, she was pursuing a dream she’d had for years: going back to school to become a Respiratory Therapist.

“I could not be happier with WIOA,” says Katrina. “Without them, I may not have ever taken this step towards bettering myself and the life I can offer my children.” With classes almost 40 miles away one way and two children just starting school, her life quickly became about balancing schedules and keeping the bills under control. Her WIOA team helped with tuition assistance, book fees, and even mileage reimbursement.

“It was such a comfort to know that [WIOA] was behind me rooting for me every step of the way,” she says.  “They were always willing to help in any way they could or point me in the right direction. I will never forget what they have done for me.”

Katrina graduated with High Honors and has already been hired as a Respiratory Therapist! She loves her new career, but she says that the most amazing thing is how much she’s grown by persevering through the last few years. “This experience has boosted my confidence, helped me learn time-management skills and ultimately be able to provide for my family. There’s no better feeling than that!”

Congratulations, Katrina!

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Crystal’s Setting the Bar

Crystal joined Wisconsin Works and FSET to support for her family during unemployment. It didn’t take long before she was amazed to find herself on an exciting new path. “Upon entering, I had no goal in mind,” she explains. “FSC helped me build a strategy to start a new career path as an administrative office assistant.” Then one painful twist put it all in jeopardy.

Or so she thought. With a torn ACL, a long recovery, and three children to care for, Crystal didn’t see how she could stay on the career path she’d grown to love. When her FSC team heard about the setback, however, they got her the tools she needed to complete the course from home.

“The classes were streamed live right to my home computer,” says Crystal with joy. Her team also helped her arrange the hands-on practice she needed to find a job upon graduation. “The training allowed interaction with customers, typing, faxing, answering phones, and assisting clients. They were very accommodating to someone in my position.”

We’re happy to say that Crystal has achieved her goal. She earned her Office Professionals certificate and has even secured a few interviews! She’s not interviewing in Wisconsin, though. That’s because Crystal decided to achieve another new goal: moving to Colorado to raise her family in the mountains! She has family there, and she’s always wanted to move back. With her new skills, she finally feels like she can be the independent mom she really wants her children to know as they grow up.

Crystal says that this has changed her from someone who had no goals to someone who’s setting the bar for herself. “My dream for the future is to become a floral designer, own my own home, and be financially stable as an office professional,” she tells us. You are one step closer already. Congratulations, Crystal!

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Success Spotlight: Tyson

Tyson’s upbeat personality and drive to learn were a beacon of hope to his classmates throughout the TrANS program. Now that he’s graduated, Tyson’s shining like a spotlight of success!

Tyson had always wanted to enter construction, but he didn’t know how to get started. He had been working jobs from temp agencies but wanted a financially stable position with the flexibility to be a good father for his children. Once he learned about TrANS, he realized it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance that he had to grab by the horns, and he wanted others to grab it, too.

“Tyson understood that entering into the construction industry would be life-changing,” his instructor Lorie tells us. “He wanted to make sure that everyone in class would have the chance to make this change.” Tyson encouraged his classmates and challenged them to reach further. He organized study groups, tutored his classmates, and even provided rides to anyone who needed one.

“They all predicted that I would be the first to get a job,” he says. “It came true.” Within a week of graduation, Tyson was hired as quality control by Rock Road. He says this job means everything to him. “I am with a company that understands that I am a single parent and works with me. I feel so comfortable and at home.”

Tyson’s strong leadership and eager personality made him a prime candidate and got him the career he’s always wanted. The thing he’s most proud of, however, is being the beacon of hope others needed. Congratulations, Tyson!

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Rosa’s Leading the Way

As the mother of seven children, Rosa has been a full-time chef, nurse, coach, driver, personal secretary, teacher, and supervisor. When she decided to put her skills to work for others, however, she knew she’d need some experiences outside of the home. That’s exactly what she found at FSC. Now she’s starting an exciting new career she hopes will lead to more opportunities in her new role.

Rosa’s been working since she was 16, but her recent separation convinced her to find a better position with the advancement potential she needs to support her family.

At FSC, she found the resources to make a job hunt possible with seven kids. Her FSET and Wisconsin Works teams helped her arrange childcare and transportation, including a referral to WETAP to get new tires for her vehicle last winter. This enabled her to start training for the office career she really wanted. She started with a course on interviewing and moved quickly into our Office Professionals training. This strengthened her clerical skills and motivated her to look for a career in the field.

To sharpen the skills she learned in the classroom, Rosa volunteered in our office. As a class assistant, she supervised the computer lab, answered student’s questions, and helped with technology. She also started a clerical position where she got hands-on experience at our front desk. She said that volunteering helped her learn what it’s like in an office setting, figure out how to handle tasks on-to-go, and feel confident that she’d be an asset to employers.

We loved having Rosa in our office, but we’re glad to say that she just started her new full-time job as an Account Specialist at Nemschoff. We know she’ll do great things, and we can’t wait to see what comes next. Congratulations, Rosa!

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Odessa Finds Her Voice

Putting together a sentence has always been tricky for Odessa, so when she got the keys to her new apartment, she sent us a picture! Several months earlier, a domestic situation left her homeless with a baby. She was determined to find a safe home, but finding a good job was tough. She didn’t have a phone or driver’s license, and she was sleeping on the couch at a friend’s house. While stress makes Odessa go mute, at FSC, she found the voice she needed to move forward.

“Renee was my voice when I could not use mine,” Odessa tells us.  Renee is the Wisconsin Works case manager who helped Odessa through every aspect of her situation. She referred Odessa to numerous resources and helped her apply for each one, including WICFoodShare, and FSET. She even helped her call to check on apartments.

In fact, Odessa found a whole network of support at FSC. “There were other people who came into Renee’s office for help, and they offered to assist me too,” she says. An office volunteer showed Odessa how to get her license, get insurance quotes, and apply for a Job Access Loan.  Meanwhile, Renee helped Odessa apply for jobs, craft a great resume, and ultimately find the job she needed by referring her to Jeralin at the Job Center.

Odessa started working full-time as a seamstress at Lion Apparel, soon after Jeralin introduced her to their team. It’s within walking distance, and she says they’ve been great about making reasonable accommodations. “The people there are so nice,” says Odessa. “The job really suits me right now, and I really like it!”

Things just keep getting better. Renee and Odessa are still working together as she’s setting up her new apartment, thanks to help from Emergency Assistance and Advocap. “The next thing on our list is to go over setting up a checking account and a budget,” says Odessa. Then they’ll be taking steps to achieve her long-term dream of becoming a dental assistant.

You have made amazing strides, Odessa! Congratulations!

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Sa’s Talents

Sa couldn’t bring much with him when he fled from the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, but he did carry with him a wealth of experience and boundless optimism that he’s using to build his future in the US. Since joining FSET in 2016, he learned English so quickly that he became an impromptu translator for other refugees. His life has given him a compassion for others and a drive to learn, which he’s putting to good use as he works toward his dream of becoming a pastor!

Sa has a strong belief in education. While he struggled with English at first, that didn’t last long as he enrolled in ELL classes. Pretty soon, he put his newfound language skills to work by helping other refugees make their new homes in Wisconsin. This also lead him to the local technical college, where he just earned his HSED.

Before he’d even finished his HSED course, however, Sa was already looking ahead to his next goal. He talked with teachers at Lakeshore Technical College before graduating, and this fall he’ll begin earning his Associate’s Degree in Mechanical Maintenance.

That’s only part of the story. At the same time, with the help of FSET, Sa found a part-time job at the YMCA through DVR, started physical therapy, and is pursuing US citizenship. He also translates his church service for other refugees each week. He hopes to put his passion and continuing education to work as a pastor someday.

Michelle and the rest of the FSET team have been duly impressed as they guide him toward his goals. “Sa has accomplished so many things during his short time with us,” says Michelle. “He is sure to accomplish more!”

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Education Jolts Gewelesis’ Dream

Everyone who’s seen the giant tag on a hairdryer knows that if you drop it in water, you’re going to get zapped. As a former salon owner, Gewelesis has seen that warning hundreds of times, but somewhere between trims, he realized that he wanted to learn more about the wires and current that made his salon work. One day, he got a letter in the mail explaining how FSC could help him get the training to start a career. That was just the jolt he needed to start pursuing his dream.

A responsible father, Gewelesis wanted to start a career that could support his family better, but getting the money to pay for training was a challenge. He soon learned that Wisconsin Works and WIOA had funds to support his education. Before he knew it, Gewelesis enrolled in the 1-year Electrical Diploma Program at Fox Valley Technical College. He’s currently completing the program and is excited to start a new career.

Ashley, who works with the W-2 program and sent that initial letter, told us that, “He is incredibly motivated to not only support himself, but his family. His dream career is coming true because of his tenacity and follow through… We are merely a conduit for him. He is committed to becoming the best version of himself.”

Great work, Gewelesis! We can’t wait to see you graduate.

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Small Family, Big Dreams!

Mikayla’s winning smile here at the Office Professionals graduation only tells part of her story. This is one of the most determined young women you’ll likely ever meet.

She moved to Green Bay earlier this year with her newborn daughter, resolved that she was going to make a good life for her small family. She came to FSC to explore her options and has been working hard since day 1. For her, every obstacle or triumph has been viewed through the lens of a central question: how can this help my daughter? Having volunteered in an office before, Mikayla knew that she liked helping people and felt this could be the career she was looking for. But she wasn’t sure how to get started.

Wasting no time, Emily, one of our helpful staff, got her enrolled in our Office Professionals class. Mikayla threw herself into the course immediately, honing her skills in Word, Excel, Outlook, and other general office tasks. This has all paid off as she started a new position on June 8.

Congratulation Mikayla. Keep us posted on your success.

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Angel’s Redemption

Angel landed 52 interviews in three months, only to be rejected each time because of a past mistake. “I was chasing any sales job I could find,” he tells us. “Then one day… one of the other guys talked about graduating from a program called TrANS. He talked about the success he was having and the new outlook on life that allowed him to see himself in a better light.” Angel decided he wasn’t going to fail another interview. Angel called TrANS, and now he’s seeing himself and everyone around him in a better light, too.

Construction was completely new to him, but Angel learned more than how to build with concrete and beams in TrANS – Angel also learned how to build his character.  “Success hit my heart when I truly learned how to listen,” he says. “Listening the right way has helped me develop lifelong friendships as well as grow existing relationships. I have learned so much about the people around me. It is almost like I never truly knew them until now. Listening this way gave me the love I now have for people and their situations.”

Angel earned his TrANS certificate by hard work and constantly setting new goals for himself: earning the highest grades on his apprenticeship exams, completing certifications, building rapport, and constantly improving his character. He felt that he owed it to everyone who believed in him to make the most of this opportunity. “Good character comes from admitting that your current character is flawed,” he says. Aligned with a purpose, this change “brought about levels of success in my life that I never thought were possible.”

After graduating, Angel found his first real career working with Northeast Asphalt. Although he’s just starting out, he already feels like a success. “Opportunities come knocking on my door now, and I no longer am concerned about tomorrow, because tomorrow will be its own challenge,” he says. Even with this newfound success, Angel strives to stay humble and purpose-driven so he can learn more about his trade and the people around him. “I am confident that meeting those goals was just the beginning.” We are, too. Congratulations, Angel!

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