“My name is Joseph Lee. I served two years in the Marines. A year in California, and a year in Hawaii.
Before I went into SER, I was homeless. I didn't have a place to stay. I wasn't doing nothing. I ain't had no confidence in myself, in my ability. I really wasn't eating, wasn't taking care of myself. My life was unbearable.
My case manager, Michelle Davis, once told me about the SER program when I was in the program at US Vets
in midtown. I kept putting it off, but she got on me one day about it. So I said, ‘I'm gonna go try it out.’ So I went and tried it out, and I enjoyed meeting everybody working at SER.”
“Joseph went through and completed Warehouse Forklift Training in September of 2015,” says SER Veteran Services Workforce Lead Buddy Oviol. “We assisted him with transportation, emergency food, resumé preparation and interview skills.”
“I got my training, forklift operator training for warehouse,” says Joseph. “But then, I was looking for employment, too. I went to SER - they had a job fair. Macy's came up there. So I filled up the application, went to the computer and did it. They told me they were going to give me a call. I kept trying to stay in touch with them. And one day, around Thanksgiving, they called me and they told me to come in. So I went and that's how everything started. I went in, and started to work.
I ain't doing worklift but I'm doing a job at Macy's, security. And I like it. It's helped me develop myself as a person and get better at liking everybody else that surrounds me. Since I've been with Macy's, I've been able to save my money, have my bus fare, my train fare, bought my clothes, what I need to wear to be on the job. So everything went on from there.
When I got here in midtown, I was in the program, so they had me in a room with two more guys. Then I got my own apartment since February. And I'm still in it. Paying decent rent. Making sure my bills are paid, my TV, my rent, my food. Any other kind of bills, just gotta pay them all. At first I wasn't able to do it, but now I'm able to take care of my own bills. Ain't nobody else helping me.
Right now, everything is looking good for me. I'm grown, and I like what I'm doing. I got all my confidence back, my personality back. My weight back. I have better relationships with my family. That was the most important thing for me.
I definitely want to be able to help somebody else, like the people who've helped me. And let them know that if things might not look good for right now, if you keep doing things right, and trying to do better, everything will look better for you. I just hope that everybody else can feel the same way I do about myself. You gotta have confidence in yourself and know that there is a way for you to do what you want in life.
I really want to open my own business. Try to work for myself. That's another one of my main goals. My neighborhood, we ain't got no 99 cent store. So I'm thinking about opening something like that, a 99 cent store, so you ain't got to go too far for that kind of store. So that's what I want, to try and open something like that.
I'm just trying to take it all one day at a time. Doing it. I know it's going to take some time, but I got that time, so I'm going to start doing it.”
You can click here
to learn more about what SER can offer to veterans, or call Buddy Oviol at 713-773.6000 extension 116.