After lunch, guests settled in to hear our six client panelists speak about their experiences before and after MND's Career Focus program.
Johnny DeQuair shared about his experience as a manager for 17 years. When he was laid off however, he realized he had a significant barrier; he couldn't really read or write. After enrolling in a local adult literacy program, Johnny was referred to MND. Here, the one-on-one counseling and mock interviews helped Johnny build his skills and confidence. He took a survival job as a janitor and a few months later got a position working at an organization that helps those with disabilities. He also enrolled in school. Recently, Johnny was promoted to a higher paying position, despite not having the education or experience credentials. "The position requires at least an Associate's degree, and I say the only A.A I have is "Above Average", from what I learned here at MND."
"My story is still being written," said Matthew Jones, who spoke after Johnny. Matt has experience in the construction field, but was getting less and less work in 2012. Bills began to pile up and he eventually lost his apartment and his car. Matt's sister signed up for MND's program and encouraged him to come as well. Matt was skeptical and he had no professional clothing. "I only had $26, but we went to the thrift store the day before ETP and I got myself a dress shirt and tie. I had never had to wear these things before and it was uncomfortable." Matt however, began ETP in his new professional attire and never looked back. He graduated from the program and began studying for his GED. When the teacher noticed his drive and positive demeanor she chose him for a paid internship teaching GED to foster youth. Matthew loves the position and is looking forward to the future.
Diana Taylor lost her job in 2010 after working there for 5 years. 2005 was the last year she had ever had an interview, and she was unsure of what had changed in the professional world since then. In 2010, Diana went to college and graduated in Novemeber of 2012. She was confident that she would find work after school, but soon realized it wasn't so simple. "I lost my house, I lost my vehicle, I lost everying, before I was referred to MND." Diana was referred to MND in January and took the two week class. Even though it was difficult and participants dropped out around her, Diana was determined. She didn't get to finish her video interview and complete her checklist however, because she was hired. Diana has been at her new place for 30 days. She is an administrative assistant at Valley Protein. She is also working on starting her own nonprofit business and is excited to see what will be happening in the future.
Robert Harrell had been in and out of prison before coming to MND. "I was selling drugs and using drugs, and having trouble getting a job because of my background." Robert's sister told him about MND. After attending the Employment Training Program and learning how to present his past in an interview, Robert was employed at McCormick, working with machines. Robert also works with young adults in the juvenile justice system. "I get to tell them that there is another way of living."
Tim came to Baltimore 3 years ago with a job but the job didn't pan out like he thought it would and so his cousin suggested he come to MND. Once he came to MND, Tim met a lot of interesting people. The job coaches and other MND staff and board members Tim met taught him something very important. "They taught me how to follow up." After finishing ETP, Tim volunteered at MND. He was soon introduced to a place called Second Chance and with the help of his job coach secured an interview. Tim got the job and is now working on starting his own business, utilizing many of the skills he learned through Connections Friday and networking with other professionals.
DeBora enjoyed her job in a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility as their court liaison, but after taking a day off from work, upon her return, she was fired. She'd worked there for three and a half years. DeBora was confident that she would receive unemployment benefits, given that she was "wrongfully" terminated. Ultimately, she did, but it was a fourteen-month long legal battle. DeBora sought MND's assistance. She was familiar with the organization because it had helped her hone her interview and resume writing skills back in 1983, after which she'd landed a job in the newly formed Domestic Violence Unit of the State's Attorneys Office. DeBora came to MND for job coaching and assistance with updating her resume. She says, "I am learning how to say 'I need help.'" Prior to coming to MND, Debora had started volunteering at a radio station. The show went from one day a week to a daily show. During salary negotiations, DeBora sought her job coach's counsel and support. She now serves as the executive producer of the show.
On Friday, May 31 MND welcomed volunteers, supporters, current clients, and friends to hear the inspiring stories of 6 client panel speakers at a new Connections Friday Remix event. The six speakers, Johnny, Matthew, Diana, Robert, Tim, and DeBora, shared their experiences of overcoming unemployment and finding career success. Their courageous actions and determination moved everyone in the audience, some to tears. It was an excellent day for celebrating the perseverance of the human spirit. Thank you to our eloquent speakers and to our supporters for sharing in this special event; we could not have done it without you!
After listening to the graduates, guests and current MND clients addressed the speakers and thanked the panelists for sharing their inspiring experiences. There were tears and laughs;a feeling of gratitude and togetherness filled the room as the event drew to a close. Guests and clients finished the day with more networking and celebrations of career success and personal strength.
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