Stephanie’s smile and positivity are infectious as she introduces herself. In addition to detailing a list of qualities that describe a great employee or even a good friend, she shares, “I’m a grandma,” and her face beams.
She also celebrates being employed after struggling to land a job since she came to California eight years ago. “I think it was my age,” she asserts and then lightly jokes, “I said I wasn’t dying my hair just to get a job. I love my gray hair!”
When Stephanie’s housing fell through in the summer of 2019, she found herself faced with homelessness for the first time. “It really took a toll on me. But my faith, that’s what got me through,” she reflects. Despite this difficult detour, she was connected to transitional housing and a supportive network of people. Around the same time, she learned about Chrysalis.
After completing our core classes, she got to work on her resume, began practicing for interviews, and started scanning our job board for leads. During that time, she took advantage of transportation assistance to and from our center, utilized our computer lab to complete online job applications, and secured interview attire from our resource room.
In March of 2020, Stephanie’s Employment Specialist notified her that we would be decreasing in-person services amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While adhering to safer-at-home orders, she continued to seek out jobs that aligned with her interests with virtual support from her Employment Specialist. “We would make appointments to complete applications over the phone. It was a lot faster than doing it by myself.” At the same time, her patience was waning, “I was, at times, giving up. I was feeling down and frustrated. I was tired of going to interviews and job fairs and not getting hired.”
Given her background of working with children as a preschool teacher, Stephanie was pleased to be considered for a crossing guard position at a local elementary school – and she was even more elated to be offered the job on the spot during her interview!
Her face mask doesn’t keep her positivity and warmth from shining through as she greets parents and children each morning. With each day, passersby become more familiar with their street crossing companion and return hellos, smiles, and well wishes.
While the journey they take from one side of the street to the other is a predictable and short one each day, Stephanie reminds us that not every path is without its hurdles. “It’s not going to be easy. Keep striving. ‘No’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘no.’ It means try another route.”
After a year of navigating the pandemic, Stephanie looks forward to the day when we can all return to life mask-free. But for now, she focuses on remaining committed to staying in touch with Chrysalis as she continues on her pathway to stability each day.