LifeWorks Harvest Moon Festival benefits the Workforce Development Program – helping young adults like Melissa and Alex find their path to self-sufficiency.
When Melissa graduated from a local Austin university in 2011, she thought she had found her path to self-sufficiency. Her graduation felt like the start of a new chapter, and with her degree and skills, she quickly landed a job.
But over the next few months, Melissa stopped feeling like herself. She kept up at her job at first, but then she couldn’t keep track of the time and started showing up late. She was afraid to leave her home so she stopped going to work and was soon fired. Without any form of support, she also lost her apartment. Melissa grappled with serious mental health issues and was living on the streets. Despite her college degree and significant job skills, her working life was disrupted by crisis.
While Melissa’s situation is especially difficult, her story is not so different from the problems many of LifeWorks’ clients face. Most young adults exiting foster care or transitioning out of homelessness are eager to find a job to move their lives forward, yet instability and constant crisis hamper their ability to become and remain employed.
While many workforce programs are focused on job skills for school-aged youth or career-changing adults, the young people that LifeWorks serves are often left out of the equation. Some already have strong skills but, like Melissa, need help with other issues. Other youth need job training and help with social and emotional challenges that prevent them from being successful in the workplace.
Like many of the young adults we work with every day, Alex has endured very difficult circumstances: abuse, neglect, abandonment, and violence. She had spent most of her life in residential treatment centers without ever knowing a single adult on which she could depend. Although she wanted to find employment, she had difficulty working with others, especially people in authority.
Alex enrolled in LifeWorks Workforce Development program. It includes an innovative and important socio-emotional training module to help young people who have experienced trauma connect with adults and develop a sense of personal accountability. Social issues are often the highest barrier to youth’s employability. For Alex, engaging with the Workforce staff was the first time in many years that she felt an adult believed in her and gave her a chance to succeed.
After her initial progress with engaging in trusting relationships, Alex was able to form strong bonds with a local church community that helped her find stable housing. She moved on to the skills training component of the Workforce Development program, was linked with a job, and has been steadily employed.
Melissa is making incredible progress and is taking care of her mental health. She finished the Workforce program and has had several interviews with some of Austin’s most prestigious tech firms. She hopes to move into stable housing soon.
Support LifeWorks Workforce Development Program by attending our Harvest Moon Festival, featuring Reckless Kelly and the Crooks.