Trainees learn at the Solar One Workforce Lab
Last week we made a blog post that featured three stories from our STRIVE trainees. Just to recap, STRIVE International is one of the city’s most respected workforce agencies, that “provides services to New Yorkers, focusing on the mission to help individuals acquire the skills and attitudes they need to overcome challenging circumstances, find sustained employment, and become valuable contributors to their families, employers and communities.”
Meet another three of our workforce students! The below students come from very different backgrounds, yet they all benefited from the program.
St. Clare: I don’t have a background in construction, I’ve spent the last 13 years in corporate sales; I had my own company, doing litigation support. When the economy collapsed, our business slowed way down, and we had to make a really difficult decision; ultimately, I decided it was better to close shop in the black than go into debt to try and keep it all afloat. I started interviewing and just couldn’t get anything. I fell behind in my child support payments, and just lost everything, my house in New Jersey, my relationship, from the stress. One day I saw the ad for STRIVE in AM New York, and the part that immediately jumped out at me was about fathers and child support. At first they told me I was overqualified, but their mission is to serve people from all walks of life and I thought it would be good to pick up some hard skills. But I’ve also been able to help my fellow trainees who may not have the same kind of business experience as I’ve had.
I definitely feel stimulated and energized by this experience. It’s mind blowing, I really started to appreciate how much I have, and how so many roses grow in the concrete, so to speak.
The green aspect of the training just seems natural to me. When you look at this world as a whole, the writing is on the wall, and nothing’s being done. Why is this controversial? The earth is no longer in harmony, so going green is inevitable, sooner or later. I’m also concerned as a parent, for my children’s future.
Solar One put me back in touch with my creative side, and showed me how to balance that with my academic background in sales. I think I’ll be able to combine all these skills into a new career. Now I can market myself to a lot of different business sectors, so I’m excited to see where the drive and skills I’ve uncovered here can take me.
Joseph: I got out of the Marines last year. I served in Iraq twice, plus South America, South Korea and Japan, working as a cook. When I got back home, I went a little crazy spending money. I was staying with my aunt, and she told me about STRIVE. I’m not really that sociable, but I starting talking with the instructors and then I started feeling like my old self, for the first time since I came home. A lot of my family works in construction, and I really enjoy learning the green stuff, like the benefits to the community and making the world a better place.
We’ve had a lot of laughs, a lot of “up” moments. I like how you can learn to take a piece of wood and a few wires, and make something that can really improve someone’s life. I like being hands-on; if this was just about administrative stuff, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’ve also done some volunteer work, worked with kids and stuff- I like to improve the community.
After I finish the program and get my licenses and certificates, I want to go back to school for accounting. Then my dream is to create my own restaurant from scratch- I call it my Grandmaster Plan- and combine all my experience- cooking, construction and accounting.
Mwazi: I found out about STRIVE from my case worker at the shelter where I’m staying. The program is great, I love it, can’t say anything bad and would recommend it to anyone. I’ve always had a job, mostly in retail like sales, cashier or stock work with some light maintenance experience thrown in.
The Solar One program is really accelerated, with a lot of detail in a short time. I like the methods the instructors use, I’ve never felt lost or left behind. They’re willing to work with you, even to spend extra time making sure you understand the material, and are always willing to give whatever help is needed.
Before I started, I had never really thought too much about the environment. I’ve become a lot more conscious of my own behaviors, like turning off appliances and recycling. One of the things I’ve learned is that everyone is so concerned with making money but we need to act now to make sure resources are still available in the future. As a result, my new philosophy is “More is less.” I’ve become a sort of green ambassador for my family, neighbors and community. I definitely think this stuff can make a difference for our future. I really want a healthy future for our kids- I have two of my own!