Stephanie was recently released from incarceration and just starting to get reacclimated to normal life again. As a single mother needing to support a family of five, she became desperate to take any kind of work she was offered. She applied to hundreds of entry-level job positions but only heard back from a handful of employers for an initial interview. She attempted a single day at a meat processing facility but couldn’t stomach the work. For a few hours a week, she secured employment at a local hotel as a maid, but her wages weren’t cutting it. After months of searching for work with minimal luck, Stephanie sought out local resources for assistance.
A Window of Opportunity
Stephanie was referred to our Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Adult program from Windows to Work (W2W), a voluntary program aimed at assisting incarcerated individuals in making a successful transition back to their community. Despite having a master’s degree in education, she had extreme difficulty finding local employment with a criminal record. The social stigma of her recent criminal history took a daunting toll on Stephanie’s mental and economic health: she went from working as a highly respected member of society making a decent living to being unable to even find a job.
After applying to the WIOA program for job search assistance and still participating in W2W, Stephanie was also enrolled in FSET, the FoodShare Employment and Training program. All three agencies met with Stephanie in coordinated meetings to discuss options available to her for employment and training.
In the beginning, Stephanie was set on finding employment related to youth education due to her extensive background in the field, but it quickly became apparent that this was not a viable option due to her current situation. They discussed what types of careers would be a good fit for Stephanie given her skills and experience, and the available openings offered by local employers, options available for advanced training and shared strategies for supporting individuals re-entering society after incarceration.
A Clear Perspective
Following a few short weeks in WIOA, Stephanie received and accepted a job offer to work as a legal secretary at a local law firm. After months of scraping by on her savings and public assistance, Stephanie has now secured full-time, meaningful employment. Her mental health and outlook on life has improved dramatically from day one; from listening to her tell her story and the impact those experiences had on her life, to hearing her talk about how she overcame and succeeded despite those obstacles.
Stephanie has even commented that finding employment in the legal field has brought her story full circle and that she’s grateful for the perspective her experiences have given her. She is excited to pursue this path as a long-term career and has even considered advanced training in the field for better job prospects, higher wages, and opportunities for career growth.
Congratulations Stephanie! You have demonstrated true grace and tenacity throughout your journey, and we wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.
Stephanie benefitted from the following program: