My Voice – Part 1

Posted on by Jerry

In August of 2018, I had hit a low. I was homeless and fleeing a domestic violence situation. I hadn’t worked in three years, and I had little hope. I made connections with the YWCA and Catholic Charities to help place myself, my daughter and our two dogs into a shelter while we searched for a place to live. I used the assistance of the rapid rehousing voucher to help us find a stable living situation. My CSO Jessica advised me to reach out to DSHS for assistance. When I first reached out to DSHS, I was broken and unsure of how they could help. I was immediately connected with my caseworker Bobbi. She listened to my story. She did not pass judgment, and instead offered encouragement. We discussed how I had not worked for many years and my options. My journey with Career Path Services started here.

I met with Brenda Cerenzia, and we put together a plan. I was unsure of how to advocate for myself, but I tried hard. At this time, I lived in a shelter, making housing our priority. In addition to a home, we addressed other concerns like childcare, mental health, clothing for interviews, job search, and navigating through the program. I was fortunate to find an apartment early in this process. From the time I called the crisis line to the time I moved in, one month had passed. Thanks to the advice of those around me, I found a stable home.

Once I was settled, Brenda and I discussed work placement. I was given a long list on prospective placements. With everything I was dealing with, I felt overwhelmed , but I was unsure how to talk about it. Together, we decided The Salvation Army would be my placement. When I was home and able to process the opportunity, it occurred to me that my abuser frequented The Salvation Army. I tried to express my concerns with the tools I had, but ended up going on the interview anyway. We discussed my concerns with The Salvation Army to see if I should be worried about that part of my past.

At this time, I was also starting my journey with Zach and his Monday classes. During the first class, he offered to make meetings with us to work on our resumes. I jumped at that opportunity. My resume was very outdated, and I lacked the confidence to edit and update it myself.  I made an appointment with Zach for the next session.

My interview with Salvation Army was scheduled for before the appointment day we had set. After the interview, I felt concerned and scared about the placement. I lacked the skills to communicate with Brenda about my concerns and the need for a different placement.

When Zach and I met to work on my resume, he asked how I was doing. I felt comfortable enough to open up about my worry an uncertainty. At the same time, Brenda stopped by and let me know I would not have to be placed there. My anxiety shot through the roof, but I felt immense relief. Zach and I continued our appointment and I left feeling proud of my updated, solid resume. During the appointment, I gained confidence in my skills and what I have to offer to an employer. I left knowing I could  apply for jobs that I would want.

Because of the interaction Brenda and I had, something beautiful happened. The anxiety I had of sharing my fears were alleviated through the support of Jessica, Bobbi, and Brenda. I found my voice and the ability to share what I needed to be successful in the program. Brainstorming led me to reach out to my daughter’s school to see if they needed volunteers. Brenda guided me on how to approach the subject with the school. I went in immediately and spoke with the principal. To my delight, they needed volunteers and jumped on board with the program. My heart was overjoyed with the opportunity. I started working in the school’s kitchen.

The next segment of this story will publish on October 29th, 2018, at 8 am. Be sure to bookmark (Ctrl+D) our web site to come back and view it!

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