God has blessed UpWorks to accomplish great things in 2017
- 25 new Life Advocates trained to bring our total to 42 Life Advocates.
- 28 participants completed the program, 25 with new jobs, 3 enrolled in school
- 2 new nonprofit partners-Turning Point and Meridian Behavioral Services
- 3 new collaborative partnerships (R3 Collaborative, Northside Partners, PPL Learning Center)
- Approximately $1,800.00 in participant support resources provided during 2017.
Rebecca had pegged herself into a box. Her aspirations were to complete addiction recovery and go back to work at McDonald’s. Up till this point she had not considered or even dreamed of a possibility of ever doing anything beyond working in fast food. Sometimes working with people requires helping them expand their dreams and opening up new possibilities. Maryls and Heidi helped her begin to dream what could be possible. After working through the self-discovery Rebecca found out she is capable of more and is now attending school. Right now, she is focusing on her Generals with a desire to either enter Addiction Counseling or entering the medical field.
She and her Life Advocates developed such a special relationship that it has impacted more than her career trajectory it impacted her daughter. Heidi one of her Life Advocates realized that Rebecca’s and her daughter were about the same age and suggested a daughters’ date. The girls had a chance to connect and build a relationship while Heidi and Rebecca connected as moms.
“This program has helped me out in many ways and has been very supportive with my life goals and my personal goals with my career goals. I really have been needing a program like UpWorks for so many years. I’m blessed that I found this program and they accepted me into it. I look forward to continuing to work with UpWorks in the future and to try to help others like me in my situation.”Norris
God is good and that he takes a chance on people when the world counts them out and brings restoration. Norris’s past and his felonies from 30 years ago have been following and discounting him from life. Making it difficult for him to live even though he is a reformed man and no longer the 15-year-old who committed those crimes. The world could only see his double homicide from when he was a young.
He was laid off from the only job he was able to get after 12 years of working for them almost a year ago. Every time he applied for a job they saw what he did 30 years ago and closed the door even though he is a reformed man who has had a clean record since. He tried everything to get back to work, finally he went to Goodwill Easter Seals knowing they have programs to help ex-felons, however the person he met with let him know that Goodwill would not be the right fit, so referred him to UpWorks. He came as a walk-in referral hoping UpWorks would be able to work with him and help him figure things out.
Three months after joining UpWorks, Norris was a changed man. When he started he was beaten down, had very little hope, and few connections to others. Hope has been restored. Norris has been working now for 3 months at a chemical factory and already is a team leader. Rufus, his Life Advocate and him have become like brothers, forming a deep personal connection that goes beyond just helping him find a job.
Chuck was feeling overwhelmed with the idea of moving forward in his next steps. Holding a Bachelors degree and no criminal background Chuck had many options available. He was assigned to loving Life Advocates Chuck and Matt who literally met Chuck where he was and offered support and coaching to empower him to make good decisions about the future. With his Life Advocate’s encouragement, Chuck quickly began seeking work in the Customer Service arena. He landed a job with Xfinity Comcast as a frontline CSR making in excess of $18 per hour.
Soon after beginning his new job Chuck was able to find an affordable apartment in St. Paul not far from work. Chuck is now on a path to become a Business 2 Business sales agent with Xfinity Comcast.
Deanna lacked confidence and saw getting her GED as an impossible barrier she did not want to face. Now after working with Lynn her confidence level is raised, and she no longer sees getting her GED as the impossible barrier. She now has a fulltime job at a church in Richfield as an admin and is working toward getting her GED.
My name is Deanna Martin, I am a changed person since starting and going through UpWorks Program. The Life Skill coach helped me write down, go after, and obtain my goals. I ’m not scared like I was when I first came to the program, my faith is stronger and my confidence is higher. I will continue to go forward in my life with the life skills I learned physically and with job skills.
Addiction is a cruel master. Alison had been a nurse prior to being caught up in addiction. Now that she is on the other side of it she is moving toward her goals and hope is being restored. She has been working as an on-call personal care assistant and is moving forward with building a new career that still resonates with her nurse’s heart, she is in the pool to become an EMT with the Minneapolis Fire Dept
“The very first time I met them I felt understood and cared about. They listened to me, really listened to me and helped me find my inner strength. The encouragement helped me feel like I could do anything. Kevin dared me to dream big! When I thought, I had big dreams he said to dream bigger. I have overcome addiction, abuse, and self-destruction and the pain and chaos was astounding. I went hard in my addiction and now of the people at UpWorks have helped me persevere and work hard with a purpose. I know my purpose and what God wants for me.”
“Cameron came to Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge after hitting rock bottom with a lifelong alcohol addiction. Having never lived a sober day in his entire adult life Cameron realized when faced with losing his young son he needed to make the change of his life. Cameron completed the long-term care program at MNTC and learned of UpWorks as he entered phase four of the program. He was matched with two Life Advocates who help him make tough decisions. Cameron is college educated and has years of experience as an IT Network engineer. He and his Life Advocates have developed an impressive resume and created the appropriate commentary to inform employers about his history. Cameron is currently employed by MNTC as their IT tech. He has decided to be patient and wait for the right employer that can embrace his new identity as a strong believer in Jesus. He is working out details with his wife to create a healthy environment for both himself and his son.”
“A young mother addicted to meth, trapped in bad relationships with family and inadequacies. Jami turned to Metro Hope Ministries Healing House for long-term recovery. Jami had trouble adjusting to the structured environment of Healing House as she suffered from depression and ADHD. Jamie was used to medicating her pain with substances. When UpWorks initially interviewed Jami she was overwhelmed with the idea of moving forward in life.
She did not want to attend school or work, her hope was to find a safe refuge from all her past demons. Eventually, Jami decided to join with UpWorks, her life advocate helped her discover new purpose and focus. Jami developed goals for gaining housing – which she accomplished, going to school and possibly a part-time job. The major change in Jami over the course of the Life Advocate engagement was her outlook on life and finding purpose. Jami and her Life Advocate formed a loving relationship and today Jami has a new home and is seeking employment.”
Testimonials from schools
“I would like to say that watching the breakfast buddy program grow has been a lot of fun. Our kiddos really enjoy the one on one attention and time they get with the volunteers, it makes them feel special. I’ve had students come up to me and request they be put on the waiting list for a breakfast buddy, which means the students are talking to their peers about their experience and it’s all positive!” – Saraya Dahlen, LSW, Valley View Elementary School
“I am so thankful for your work. You listened to our needs and coordinated the partnership with some amazing church partners. I believe in team work, and definitively this has been the case here. Everybody has taken an important role, and the results are gratifying. I believe the numbers of volunteers are going to increase next year, and our students are going to grow immensely both academically and socially. I want to express my gratitude to Up Works, for having people like you serving others. It has been a great experience.” – Vianny Rodriguez, Washburn Elementary School
“My Breakfast Buddy has always been talkative. But it was gratifying to notice the nature of our conversations changing as time went on and greater trust was developed. My Breakfast Buddy moved beyond conversation about his favorite video game or TV show and began talking about important events in his life, and hopes and dreams for his future, and about how he’s getting along with his classmates.
I’d invite everyone to consider if being a Breakfast Buddy would be a good fit for you. As I reminded my Breakfast Buddy that this was the last week of school, which also means the last week of Breakfast Buddies until next year, he excitedly asked with his contagious smile, “Will you be my Breakfast Buddy again next year?” to which I answered, “Well, I plan to!” How could I not? Come to find out, I’ve grown a lot, too, since those first few nervous days. Now I’m truly looking forward to it.” -Rev. Carol Zaagsma, Breakfast Buddy Volunteer