Katherine #SuccessBells

December 8, 2017

Katherine and her twin sister have always been close. The two were placed in foster care at nine months old after their mother passed away, and from that early age they learned the value of resilience and the importance of having each other to lean on in difficult times. Despite other challenges they’d go on to face together, Katherine never imagined that she and her sister would someday lose their livelihood and the home they shared.

After years of teaching and later working in customer service, Katherine decided to combine her communication skills and sales experience to start her own business. With financial backing from her twin sister, she opened a small shop and was slowly acquiring a pool of customers when her sister unexpectedly lost her job. Katherine acted fast, selling her business’s inventory as she grappled with the reality of starting a job search in her 60s.

Despite years of solid work history, an undergraduate and master’s degree, time after time, Katherine was turned down by potential employers. “It was my age, I know it was,” she reflected.

Eventually, Katherine and her sister ran out of funds and lost their apartment, forced to leave behind the neighborhood they had called home for a decade. They spent nearly a year without a clean, safe place to rest their heads. “We were on our own,” Katherine shared, “and we didn’t have a chance.” Katherine and her sister knew they needed someone else in their corner.

Staying in an emergency shelter, the twins came to Chrysalis looking for a path forward. “I knew it was a going to be a positive experience,” Katherine recalled of Chrysalis’ program. “The [class] facilitators were personable, open-minded, and compassionate.”

Invigorated by the judgement-free, professional environment of our center and the opportunity to start again, Katherine completed our program in a week’s time and worked hard to develop a job search plan with her Employment Specialist while her sister did the same. Along with one-on-one job search support, she was awarded a scholarship for a new pair of glasses, obtained work-appropriate attire from our resource room, and received bus fare to go to and from interviews.

Katherine quickly recognized the value of Chrysalis’ resources and connections throughout the community as she looked for work. “Chrysalis opens doors for clients that weren’t open before,” she shared.

Through Chrysalis’ social enterprise staffing company, Katherine landed a temporary job at Lanier Parking. A few months later, the company hired her on permanently and gave her a promotion! Around the same time, Katherine and her sister were signing the lease on an apartment through the Housing and Jobs Collaborative (HJC) program. Provided through a partnership Chrysalis has with the People Concern and the L.A. County Department of Health Services, this program provides participants with a time-limited housing voucher to help them stabilize in housing as they work with their Employment Specialist to maintain and increase their income.

Housed and stably employed, Katherine sees the world around her through a lens of gratitude. “I see positive things happening with my home, my career, and my health,” she shared. “Now that I am back in the workforce, I feel like I have value again.” A former educator and volunteer with at-risk youth, Katherine is currently working with her Employment Specialist to renew her teaching credentials and looks forward to being back in the classroom in the future.

For now, though, Katherine is grateful to be doing work she loves and to have a home where she can celebrate the holidays with her sister…and a job made all the difference.

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