For four years, Curtis worked at a local meat packing plant. The shifts were grueling and conditions difficult, but it was steady work. “Making $15 an hour, I was struggling to make ends meet,” he recalls.
When the plant started to cut their production schedule, bills began to stack up. Already stretched thin, the reduced hours were devastating for his family’s finances. They did their best to get by, and struggled to hang on when temporary layoffs were announced. Weeks later, Curtis learned the layoffs were permanent—the plant would never reopen.
Determined to find a better opportunity, Curtis enrolled in the YWCA’s Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Training Program. While earning his CDL, he was also learning about how to stand out during the interview process and how to succeed in the workplace.
With his eyes on the prize, Curtis worked hard to earn his credentials and made his job search a top priority. Through networking, he connected with a local construction company who promised a job once he earned his license. “Having my CDL helped me get my foot in the door,” he says.
Today Curtis is employed full-time with a local construction company. He’s now earning more than twice what he made packing meat and is thrilled to have permanent, fulltime work. “At the YWCA I learned it’s not who you are or where you’ve been,” he says. “It’s where you want to go.”
Earning close to minimum wage and struggling to make ends meet, Ihesha never thought she could do more. Driven to provide a better life for daughter, she joined the YW Jobs program (YWJ) and began to envision new possibilities for herself and her future.
After working with her case coordinator to explore job opportunities and practice her interviewing skills, Ihesha interviewed for a job at a local call center. Although she didn’t have any experience, the interviewer was impressed by both her enthusiasm and background in customer service. She was offered the job that same day!
Within six months, Ihesha was promoted and is now working as the company receptionist. “The thing that I like about my job the most is that I’m basically the glue here,” she says. “With other jobs, I didn’t really feel important.”
Since starting YWJ, Ihesha has nearly doubled her salary. Her new earnings mean she can now afford an apartment for herself and her daughter. She’s proud to be on her own. “$15 an hour for me and my daughter is stability,” she explains. “I’m really making my ends meet and I couldn’t do that with $8 an hour.”
In 2011, after five years of retirement, James decided to rejoin the job force so he could afford increasing medical costs and take care of his family. Eager to get hired in the transportation industry, he enrolled in the YWCA St. Paul’s Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Program.
The first part of the program was facilitated at the YWCA, where James completed practice tests online in preparation for the second stage of training at Interstate Truck Driving School (ITDS). After weeks of hard work both in the computer lab and in the driver’s seat, James received his Class B CDL—and soon after, landed a job.
Today, James works as a bus driver for a Twin Cities transportation company and is excited about the doors his new credential has opened for him. “Without this program, I could never have gotten my Class B license,” he said. “I’m so thankful!”
Laid off in 2011, Eritrea was frustrated by a difficult economy and the obstacles that stood in her way of finding another job. Interested in transportation management, Eritrea enrolled in the Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program at the YWCA St. Paul.
After receiving her license, Eritrea set her sights on getting employed. “I had no experience in a field that’s dominated by men,” she said—but she eagerly began navigating her new career path by exploring job opportunities and networking with employers. Soon, her new credential led to new opportunities—including a job with the Minnesota Department of Transportation!
Today, Eritrea balances work with her studies pursuing a degree in transportation and logistics management. “[The YWCA] has opened so many doors for me,” she said. “I [learned] a lot of skills here that will help me…in the future.”
Unemployed and struggling to afford childcare for her son, Israeel was determined to build a better life for her family. As a participant in our YW Works and YW Jobs programs, she found help securing childcare, focusing on her job search and beginning to realize new possibilities for her future.
With support and encouragement from staff, Israeel gained work experience through temporary placements and earned her National Career Readiness Certificate to further improve her credentials.
Glad to be working, but frustrated to not have steady, long-term employment, Israeel persevered. After months of interviewing and diligently searching for opportunities, she got the call she had been waiting for—a job offer from a local medical supply company.
In her role as a documentation specialist, Israeel is grateful to have not only steady income but also insurance coverage for herself and her son. “I feel good; I feel secure,” she says. “I’m happy to go to work every day to give my son a better life!”
For years Tyisha experienced domestic violence and cycled in and out of shelters. “My self-esteem was low, but I woke up one day and said: ‘I don’t want my child to grow up thinking it’s okay to hit a woman,’” Tyisha explained. After courageously leaving her husband, Tyisha started anew. However, without a job, she didn’t know how she was going to support herself and her son.
After gaining on-the-job experience during some part-time positions, Tyisha joined YW Works (YWW) and landed a full-time job within just a few weeks. During her first year on the job, she was promoted twice. Today, Tyisha works as an assistant manager. “YW Works supported me throughout this whole process. They helped me improve my résumé and most importantly, made me believe in myself,” she said.
With only two credits remaining to receive her medical assistant certificate, Tyisha looks forward to raising her son while setting positive examples for him. “Now I can show my son that working hard leads you to your goals.”
“Nothing’s easy. There’s always [hardships]—but if you stay diligent, it pays off,” explains Albert, who came to the YWCA St. Paul after getting laid off in 2012. Rising above the discouragement and frustration of no longer having an income to support his family, he decided to steer his life back on track with help from the Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Training Program.
During his time in the program, Albert did more than perfect his skills behind the wheel. He also focused on becoming work-ready by improving his résumé, participating in mock interviews and building his literacy on the computer. Six months later, he received his CDL and landed a job with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).
While plowing snow and paving roads, Albert is excited to have not only steady income, but also benefits like paid time off, insurance coverage and a retirement plan. He recently celebrated his two-year anniversary working with MnDOT and is grateful to have the opportunity to provide a better life for his family.
At 24, Precious courageously ended an unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend knowing a brighter future lay ahead. “I felt so free once I left him. I felt like a bird,” she explained. “I was ready to start over and make a new life for me and my daughters.”
On her own and without a job, Precious joined YW Works (YWW), where a case manager helped her to enroll in school and start down a positive path. After being accepted into a community health worker program, YWW connected Precious to some part-time positions where she gained valuable work experience as she pursued her education.
After a year at the YWCA, Precious received her Nursing Assistant Certificate from Minneapolis Community & Technical College and landed work as a personal care attendant. “The staff at the YWCA gave me confidence and encouragement,” she said. “Without YW Works, I would be in a different place.”
Takeysha struggled in high school and never thought she could go further. When she became the sole provider for her two children and became homeless, she knew she needed better skills and a new start. After six months living on church basement floors, Takeysha and her children were accepted into the YWCA Transitional Housing Program (THP) and YW Works (YWW) program.
With help from the YWCA, Takeysha enrolled in school, where she studied to become a massage therapist—and after receiving her certification, she landed a job in a chiropractic office working with accident victims. Looking ahead, Takeysha plans to return to school to pursue a degree in physical therapy. “Whatever you need, [the YWCA] is there to guide you to where you want to be,” she says. “If you want to make a change, it’s there.”