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Success stories

Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) resident JoEllyn is undergoing a transformation.

“This experience is really opening my eyes,” the 40-year-old mother of four children explains. “I’m more self-confident, energetic, and positive.”

It’s a welcome change from the last few years, when her husband lost his job and one of her sons developed a serious health condition that required her to care for him.  This made it difficult for JoEllyn to work a consistent job, let alone one she enjoyed.

Then JoEllyn found the CHA. In 2007, she and her family moved into a single-family home rental in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, which, she says, “couldn’t have come at a better time for us.”

Although the stress of finding and maintaining proper housing disappeared, JoEllyn’s career was less than stellar.

“I’ve had so many jobs,” she explains.

Working every type of position from Administrative Assistant to Leasing Agent, she struggled to find something that fit her personality and interests. She went back to school to study Youth Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) but was unable to finish due to family obligations.

When E&ES Housing Case Manager Felicia Blanks informed her of the CHA’s new work requirement, JoEllyn knew it was time to act. The entire family began using E&ES’ CHA program FamilyWorks. She, her husband, and her oldest son began working with E&ES Account Executive Jeanne Kabler to find employment, while Felicia found child care and other resources for JoEllyn’s three school-aged children.

Recently, JoEllyn enrolled in E&ES’ newest CHA program, Transitional Jobs, which is designed to help individuals develop a solid work history through job-readiness training and subsidized employment.

On the first day of training, she had a revelation.

“I realized I need to pursue something I’m really passionate about,” she says. “Something that makes me want to get up and go to work every morning.”

Her instructors, E&ES Training and Development Manager Vickie Pryor and Trainer Faith Mosley-Shorter, began the session by asking students to assess their interests and skills. While considering her answer, JoEllyn remembered her favorite job working as an Outreach Activities Coordinator for a city-run youth program.

She remembered that she didn’t just enjoy the job, she was good at it; however, the program lost funding about a year after she began the position, and JoEllyn was laid off.

Vickie and Faith collaborated with E&ES Program Director Dena Byrd to coordinate an interview for a similar position with CHA. After extensive preparation with her trainers, JoEllyn interviewed and was hired as an Assistant Housing Coordinator, a job she is still enjoying today.

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