Jerome Greenwood is a 52-year-old widower with a criminal past. In 2017, he stepped out of prison after 7 years, starting life all over again. Goodwill Career Coach Martha Guizar is a young, petite woman, with a smile that brightens a room, and a specialist when it comes to helping former felons overcome their barriers to employment.
Martha has a way of connecting with former prisoners that is equal parts tough, tell it like it is, psychologist, optimist, and cheerleader with an endless drive to succeed. Martha says she can spot a former prisoner the minute they walk in her Career Center by the way they carry themselves. She says they often come in with a chip on their shoulder convinced the deck is stacked against them, and that nobody will give them a chance no matter how hard they try. Many are convinced it is only a matter of time before they end up back in prison due to a lack of support and stigma. The secret to Martha’s success is her ability to get former prisoners and others to buy-in to a process. To buy-in and commit to a journey that yields positive life-altering results, but requires patience and hard work.
The journey typically starts by establishing a foundation for success. A job seeker like Jerome needs to have their basic life needs met to successfully land and hold a job. This includes, but is not limited to housing, transportation, food, clothing, and grooming, which Goodwill funders and nonprofit partners help provide. Once the foundation is laid, Martha sets out to know the individual’s work history, jobs they held while incarcerated, and interests moving forward. Understanding someone’s interests is very important as those who enjoy their work tend to keep that job and grow a viable career pathway. In Jerome’s case, Martha determined that he desired an opportunity to become a truck driver.
You don’t become a truck driver overnight, but with that end goal in mind, Jerome would need a temporary job while seeking training for a CDL license. So, Martha enrolled Jerome in Goodwill’s Work Readiness Workshops to help him prepare a professional resume, dress for success, and interview well. In the meantime, Martha got to work contacting employers she knew give former felons a second chance. Jerome worked hard to make himself marketable, and after a series of interviews, landed a job with TLC Resorts Vacation Club earning $8.25 an hour.
With his housing, transportation, and income barriers removed, Jerome and Martha turned their attention to training for a CDL license. Goodwill does not provide this type of training, but fortunately Martha was able to connect Jerome with a Workforce Connections partner that does. On January 3rd, 2018, Martha received the news Jerome had completed training and received his CDL license. With the news, Martha enthusiastically set out to line up interviews with potential employers. After ten days, Jerome secured a full-time Driver position with Environmental Transportation of Nevada, affording him a substantial increase in pay from minimum wage.
Faced with one last barrier, Jerome couldn’t afford the boots, gloves, clothes, and other miscellaneous items he need to start work as a truck driver. So, Martha once again reached out and secured the items for Jerome through Goodwill Partner Job Connect.
Thanks for Martha, Goodwill funders, and Goodwill partners, Jerome journey to employment is complete, but his life’s journey is just now starting. Please join us in thanking Martha, our funders, and partners, as well as in congratulating Jerome on his success.