Kathleen: Part of American History

For Kathleen, TrANS opened up more than a career path. It opened the doors to becoming part of American history.

“I always had a fascination with construction,” she insists, “but with no experience or family or friends in the industry, I didn’t know how to break in.” She earned her CDL to see if she could make it as a driver. She had an excellent work history, but at 57, it was a bit longer than expected for an industry newcomer. Then she discovered the TrANS program and knew it was her chance to succeed.

After meeting her instructor Ranard and hearing some of the most impassioned messages of her life, however, Kathleen realized she wanted to explore other opportunities as well. They toured union halls, where Kathleen was so impressed that she decided to join the Operating Engineers 139.

“I learned how to operate every piece of equipment from skid steers to cranes, bulldozers to excavators,” she says. She hadn’t had math in over 35 years, so she studied in her own time from a GED book. “The class arranged for us to take union tests together as a group, and the tests were not easy. Without TrANS, I’m not sure I would have passed.”

Today, Kathleen has contributed to some huge projects, from building railroad beds in North Dakota’s oil boom district to building an interstate bridge over the Mississippi. “I’ve helped build waste water treatment facilities, power plants, paper mill expansions, and updates to nuclear plants,” Kathleen tells us. “My main motivation is being part of something bigger than me – getting together with a bunch of people I never knew before and creating something from nothing that will outlive me and be useful to countless people.”

Kathleen says that Ranard’s leadership and the TrANS program made this possible. “I give TrANS much credit for me being in the construction industry. Ranard’s commitment doesn’t cease after graduation. I graduated in 2013, and if I don’t contact him with updates, he’s contacting me,” she says, adding “These experiences are priceless to me. We are all a part of American history in some small way in this industry.”

Great work, Kathleen!

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Isaiah’s Success

After a lifetime in Africa, Isaiah immigrated to in Wisconsin in the dead of winter. He spent three months trying to get off the ground, but adjusting to a completely new country had challenges he never anticipated. He started looking for resources and found FSC. Six months later, and he’s ready to call Wisconsin his home.

Isaiah had three goals: find a home, get a car, and start a career. Since we met him, he’s checked these off one-by-one. Isaiah started by learning the basics with his FSC team – things like navigating the city, finding resources, and figuring out how to use public transportation. Soon, he found a place to live. Before long, he started studying for his driver’s test. His readiness to learn stood out to his team, and they asked if he’d be interested in learning construction. He eagerly accepted the challenge.

TrANS is an intense six-week training course, but Isaiah had to learn even more than the typical student to graduate. His FSC team tutored him on things like measurements and the US money system so he could pass the Accuplacer test by the end of the course. They also walked through the application process with him. “I managed to overcome my challenges by working hard and completing tasks ahead of time,” Isaiah tells us.

His hard work was swiftly rewarded. The day after he applied, Isaiah was offered a job with Maly Roofing. The same week, Isaiah passed his driver’s test and bought a car!

“He’s enjoying everything he is learning about roofing and is happy that he finished the TrANS program,” says Lorie, Isaiah’s TrANS instructor. “I wasn’t sure how long it would take for Isaiah to achieve these goals, but I knew it would happen. What a wonderful success!”

We couldn’t agree more. Congratulations, Isaiah!

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Ashley’s Reason to Smile

Positivity is a choice that Ashley makes every day. A few years ago, she went through a divorce. It left her with five children, no income, and an uncertain future. Through it all, she focused on making sure her children had a strong role model. She kept a smile on her face and powered through everything, until at last she joined Wisconsin Works this Spring. Now, she’s smiling on the inside just as much as she is on the outside.

In W-2, Ashley found the support she needed to get her family stable at last. With a special needs son who required full-time care, she hadn’t been able to actively look for work before. Ashley worked with Marisa, her W-2 case manager, to turn this around. By July, she found a safe home for her family. This school year, her son is finally at a point where he can succeed in school. And now, Ashley’s starting her career in customer service!

Ashley says that she could see and feel that Marisa genuinely believed in her, and the vouchers and cash assistance helped her get her family back on track. “She believes it is necessary to put in the hard work to find the career you really want,” says Marisa, adding that “the motivation Ashley received here is what lead her to gain employment so rapidly.”

This September, Ashley started her new job as a cashier with Family Dollar, and she’s impressed them so quickly that she’s already in training to become an assistant manager. “I’m the person who turns frowns upside-down,” she tells us. She loves making people’s day in customer service and working with a supportive manager and team. After earning a promotion, Ashley even hopes to go to school for business management.

Congratulations, Ashley!

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Levi Sparks His Career

Sparks have a way of flying around Levi! As a welder, he loves turning sparks into heavy-duty equipment that lasts. The spark that got him started in a lasting career, though, was his passion for the industry. His tool of choice to feed that flame: WIOA.

Levi has a contagious enthusiasm, so when he heard that WIOA could help him get a degree in welding, he was all-in from day one. “Levi is one of the most positive and hard-working clients I’ve had the joy of working with,” says Zana, his WIOA Career Specialist. Zana helped him navigate the admissions process, find financial aid, and prepare for school. She also helped Levi craft a budget and savings plan so he could reach his goals after school.

With a great support network, Levi thrived in his welding classes at Bay College West. WIOA funded Levi’s school fees so he could afford supplies like welding tools. His brother helped drive him to class, and his mother provided a home when he needed it most. WIOA also helped Levi get the practical experience he needed to find a job after graduation. Zana connected Levi with Northwood Manufacturing, where he started as a volunteer and was eventually offered his first job in the field!

Levi loves his new career in welding and goes to work each day with the same passion he brought to classes. He’s just accepted a position at Lake Shore Systems, where he hopes to grow as a welder and eventually earn a promotion. Plus, he’s saved enough to purchase his first home, where he’s excited to start married life with his fiancée.

Congratulations, Levi!

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Lifting Weights with W-2

When you go to AutoZone, be sure to say hi to their new Sales Associate, Rashon! He’s the guy with the friendliest smile you’ll ever see and four great kids he may tell you about while he’s helping you find your supplies. A few months ago, though, he wasn’t sure how he’d manage a full-time job, when he suddenly found himself a single father of four. He knew he had to take immediate action to keep his family moving forward. That’s when Wisconsin Works helped him get back in the driver’s seat and in charge of his life.

Rashon quickly found the guidance, resources, and support he needed to be strong for his children. He’d never needed childcare before, so that was one of the first things his W-2 team helped him secure. Once he knew his children would be cared for, a huge weight lifted from his shoulders, and he buckled down on his job search.

Alongside his W-2 team, Rashon zeroed in on jobs with advancement potential, to keep his family financially stable in the long-run. During his search, he earned monthly payments from W-2 to keep his family afloat. He practiced interviewing, prepared a resume, and looked at options he really enjoyed. With vouchers for transportation and interview attire, he was able to make a great impression on potential employers.

Today, Rashon says that he’s on his way to being financially independent, and he’s excited to find a new home for his family soon. Meanwhile, he’s staying with W-2 for as long as he can, to be the best father possible for his children. Congratulations, Rashon!

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Rx marks the Spot!

Tina had a stable career as a dental assistant for 15 years, while her husband watched their three children at home. Then her world was suddenly thrown upside-down when she lost her job. Out of work, money quickly became tight. With her family depending on her, Tina decided to explore administrative careers, but she didn’t know how to get started until she heard about Wisconsin Works.

Tina quickly discovered that with W-2 on her team, she could do a lot more than just apply for work. Her new case manager, Karen, helped Tina secure a volunteer opportunity in the office, explore career options, and find useful resources. “She gave me pointers and tips, kept me positive, gave me the tools to reach my goals, and was always a friendly face there to help whenever I needed it,” Tina tells us. With a little budgeting advice, Tina even discovered that her W-2 payments put school within reach. Before long, she was enrolled in an Administrative Assistant program at Fox Valley Technical College.

“I could not have gotten my degree and be where I am if I didn’t have the help from the W-2 program,” says Tina. “If I had not received the gas vouchers, I would not have been able to make it to some of my job interviews. The monthly payments paid for rent…This program gave me a positive outlook for my future.”

Today, Tina has both her Associate’s degree and a new career path she’s truly excited about. As a Pharmacy Technician at Hometown Pharmacy, she’s able to combine her healthcare experience with her new administrative skills. “This job means I am reaching my goals and moving forward in a positive way in my life,” she tells us. “I want to make this my career.” We are so happy for you! Congratulations, Tina!

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Home is Where Tiara Is

As a CNA, Tiara’s seen many people move into the retirement communities where she’s worked. She also knows it takes more than unpacking a few belongings to make them feel at home. Thankfully, making people feel at home is something she specializes at. In fact, she enjoys it so much that last year, she decided to start a side-business as a realtor. Tiara knew she’d need a solid plan and support to make that happen, though. That’s where Wisconsin Works came in.

“I enjoyed working with her,” says Tessa, Tiara’s W-2 case manager. “She isn’t afraid to be her own advocate, but she’s also willing to accept help if needed.” Tiara knew that to make her dream come true, she’d need reliable daycare, transportation, and her GED. Ever-passionate about helping others, she was also eager to continue working as a CNA. W-2 helped her arrange everything she needed to get started.

Together with Tessa, Tiara started her business, enrolled in GED classes, and found a great job working with WI MEDEMPLOY. She loves that it’s a job with flexible hours, so she can keep the career she loves in healthcare, while building her brand as a realtor. Since she works days, she can also spend more time with her kids and show them what a great role model looks like.

Congratulations, Tiara!

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Precious Soars to New Heights

“I came to TrANS with nothing but hope and ambition,” says Precious, “and I’ve been soaring ever since.” The moment she started her career in construction, there was nothing to stop Precious from having the life she’d always wanted. You’d never know that just a few months ago, she was having trouble getting it off the ground.

“I was sitting at home, waiting to get a call to go back to work,” she states. Precious had just moved to Wisconsin with her newborn and was living with a friend while struggling to get by on minimum wage. When she heard about TrANS, she saw the opportunity she needed. “I had seen some of my friends go through the program. They were learning skills, getting certifications, and excited to start work in construction. I decided I wanted to be like them.”

Precious’ career took off faster than anyone could have predicted. As the graduate of another program, Precious was fast-tracked into Southwest TrANS. She pushed herself to excel, and within two weeks, she started her first job in construction. A few weeks later, she moved her family into a new home. Then she bought a car. It was one great thing after another!

Precious is currently working with Speedway Sand and Gravel. She says that her secret to success is “wanting it bad enough and not being afraid to go out of the way to get it. Even pushing yourself to do things that seem scary.” While she’s thrilled to have a great job that she enjoys, she’s also always pushing herself to new heights. During the last off-season, she started apprenticeship classes with Laborer Union 464 and asked to get as much class time as possible, so she could get a jump-start on the next season.

“Precious understands that sitting back and waiting for life to happen isn’t for her,” says her instructor Lorie. “I am so proud of her.” Congratulations, Precious!

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Jason’s Best Advice

As a full-time single dad, Jason would do anything to be a good role model for his son. For a while though, he wasn’t sure if that meant giving up on his education. A tough divorce left finances tight, he didn’t know if he could afford to keep his home, much less pay for school. Then his counselor at Mid-State Technical College recommended WIOA. “It was the best advice she could have given me.”

“The feeling of hopelessness was overwhelming at the time, but that all changed quickly after my first meeting with my WIOA Career Planner, Jamie,” says Jason. “I started to become very confident about my future.”

WIOA was able to help pay school fees, navigate his job search, and balance work, school, and family. “What kept me going was seeing a better, happier future for my son and I, which was my complete motivation,” he says, adding “I wanted to make my son proud of his dad and be a good role model.”

Jason graduated with the highest honors and soon landed a great position working in healthcare at Aspirus. “It’s a career that I truly enjoy, not just a job. It feels like I’m making a difference in someone’s life,” he says. Most of all though, he’s back to having “a normal life with normal hours,” where he can spend time with his son.

“I really can’t say enough about the program. It honestly gave me the support and extra confidence I needed to make my dream a reality,” says Jason. “I have been so blessed by the kindness and I am so indebted for all this program has given me along with the kind-hearted support and encouragement from Jamie, my WIOA Career Planner. WIOA and Jamie have made a huge difference in my life! I will be forever grateful.”

Congratulations, Jason!

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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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