SER-Jobs for Progress—Improving Lives...One Job at a Time.

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Julia Salazar

“I'm from Houston - I grew up in Denver Harbor. I'm 38. My daughter is 6, and I'm a single mom.
 
I've pretty much done all kinds of work. I've worked at a car dealership, I worked in retail. I had office work, but it was hard for me to keep a 9-5 after I had my daughter. I wasn't working for 6 months. That was why I wanted to go back to work and find a 9-5 job where I didn't have to worry about babysitters. 
 
I heard about [Serving for Success] initially when I registered at the work source. But I didn't give it that much mind. I had never even been to the Food Bank. But then, I ended up having to come [to the Houston Food Bank] and do community service, because of TANF. 
 
When I first came to the Houston Food Bank, I spent that time working in the warehouse helping volunteers sort through food donations and even cleaned toilets if needed!  After a couple of weeks, a friend (and fellow graduate) told me about [Serving for Success]. I joined right away and completed the Job Readiness training in August 2016. 
 
It was really a great experience. [SER’s Serving For Success Workforce Development Lead] Rickey [Davis] is a great teacher. He made everything fun. He really helped you with the things you needed to work on. I needed help with my résumé because I had so many random jobs. He helped me fix that and prepare for interviews. We did confidence-building, too.
 
I think [my favorite part about Serving for Success] was graduation day because everyone was so excited and so happy. We had a little party and everything. 
 
During my on the job training, employers were able to see my potential and everything I learned in the class prepared me for the job I have now as a CAP Operator for The Food Bank. When people come in, I help them with their applications for SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid. So now I'm helping people. They're like 'oh, I missed my appointment, and I don't have my stamps' and I say 'I know, I've done that before.' So we can really relate. And I know exactly what they need to do from doing it [myself].
 
I really feel motivated. I really feel like I love coming to work. And I love helping people. I never wake up and say 'my God, I do not want to be there.' Never. 
 
[In the future] I would like to move up to a coordinator position. They go out on the field and do what we do here, but they don't just do the applications. They do the interviews and everything. I love helping people on this side, and I would love to help them on the other end. Meet more people; go out into different areas. Because we've done that before. We've gone out to rural areas. They go out with the food trucks, and they literally hand out food to people. And you can see kids eating food. And that's the best part. 
 
I'm really happy, I'm really proud, and I'm really grateful for everything that happened. I'm doing exactly what I came here for. I came here because of TANF, and now I'm helping people get TANF. So it's full circle. 
 
I don't think [my daughter] understands the whole thing yet, but she tells everybody that ‘my mom works at the Houston Food Bank.’ So that's pretty cool. Eventually she'll come up here. I mean, she's old enough to volunteer. 
 
[Serving for Success] gave me a chance at a real career  I’m extremely grateful for what SER did for me, and I wish all the best to the students who have the opportunity to take advantage of such a great program.”
 
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If you would like to learn more about Serving for Success, please click here