Chazcie came to Guest House in late January 2020 ready to embrace all that the program had to offer. Eager to learn new life and professional skills she immersed herself in the Workforce and Life Development program and dedicated herself to getting as much as she could from the classes. It was only a matter of weeks before her in-person attendance shifted to a laptop due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Undeterred by the circumstances, Unique Campbell, Workforce and Life Development Coordinator, transitioned the women of Guest House and the staff of volunteer instructors to an online education platform.
For three months Chazcie attended a full schedule of job readiness classes, which included instruction on resume and cover letter writing. Once her paperwork was checked and double checked, it was submitted to second-chance employer, UPIC Health, LLC. Through strategic client relationships, UPIC Health assists more than one million patients in navigating the health system each year. In partnership with Friends of Guest House, the UPICares Community Lift Jobs Program, provides meaningful employment for women who are facing housing insecurity or getting back on their feet after incarceration.
Elizabeth Pringle, Director of Awakened Leadership for UPICares, is responsible for the new employee training program. Where Covid-19 presented barriers for some, Pringle saw an opportunity and real life applications for her trainees. Employees of the program triage incoming callers about their healthcare concerns and direct them to the appropriate departments and services of UPIC Health partners. Employees communicate with clients over the phone and log calls and details via a computer. Therefore, learning effective communication via these devices during training served to only reinforce all of the necessary skills for success in the role.
Pringle recounts, “Planning programming with Unique had to quickly convert to e-learning and getting messaging and training digitally. We worked through email and interview skills all online – exactly where client interactions would take place.” Through the generosity of donors, the residential facilities of Guest House are equipped with High Speed Internet and each woman at Friends of Guest House has been loaned a laptop. Without these critical resources, forward progress for these women would have been halted.
It’s all about what you put into it. I came to Guest House ready to get everything out of it – so I knew I had to put everything into it. Guest House, the classes, and this new job have made me an adult. And I feel excited about my future.” – Chazcie
Chazcie successfully completed the training and absolutely loves every aspect of her new job. “I love doing it! I enjoyed going to work when it meant opening up my laptop in a private area at the Luray house, and now I go to work in a shared space office donated by WeWork. I learn so much every day and I get to listen to and help people with things that really matter.”
The feeling of security she has found through her employment with UPICares is invaluable to Chazcie as she transitions to the aftercare program. She is keenly aware of the pressure that Covid-19 has placed on everyone’s employment circumstances and feels confident knowing that she has a job that can be adapted during these extraordinary times. The core of the training offered by Pringle and her staff teaches the transferable skills of patience, adaptability, problem solving and resourcefulness. Ensuring that Chazcie, and the other women this program benefits, will have the professional skills to advance in their careers.