Chasing the Dream: A Center for Working Families Success Story

Michael is a married father of three sons ages seventeen (17), seven (7) and two (2) years old. He is a lifelong resident of the southeast side of Indianapolis. Michael is extremely motivated and wants to
ensure a quality life for his family.

In August 2015, having worked temporary jobs for some time, Michael decided it was time for a change. He had become increasingly concerned about his family's financial wellbeing. His wife Sylvia had been taking online college courses in Accounting, but that had put the family in serious financial debt since she was attending a proprietary college. Now, at 34, Michael knew he needed to make some changes to ensure his future and his family’s. Michael had two major barriers facing him: 1) he had not graduated from high school and 2) a felony charge from 2001. Michael began attending high school equivalency (HSE) classes, sponsored by Blue River Career Programs (housed at Southeast) and started with our coaches in August. By the end of September, he was ready to take the test. On his first attempt he passed all but the writing section. During this time, Michael also completed Southeast's intensive 3-week Career Pathways Program. Michael remained
focused on ensuring financial stability for his family. From early on, he expressed an interest in earning his CDL and working in the trucking industry. He attended an open house at a local manufacturer, Marian, Inc., during an Indianapolis Manufacturing Day program to learn more about advanced manufacturing and potential career pathways.

After completing our Career Pathways Program and knowing he only needed to focus on one additional area for his HSE, Michael sought employment to help sustain his family. In October he
found not one, but two different temporary positions to bring in some much needed income. Despite this income, Michael still needed financial assistance from Southeast, which we were able to provide with barrier busting dollars.

At the end of October 2015, Michael took the final part of his HSE test and passed! He could now focus on his next goal, the CDL training and certification. Unfortunately, due to his criminal
conviction he faced additional obstacles in the process to qualify for WIOA training dollars. Because of the type of conviction, WorkOne (the WIOA provider) wanted to ensure Michael would be able to
secure a position in the trucking field before expending training dollars on him. Through the assistance of his employment coach at Southeast, Michael was able to obtain a letter from a business that hires truck drivers indicating his 14-year- old felony would not present a hiring obstacle. This process took more than two months to complete and during that time, the temporary positions where Michael was working both ended. Once again he turned to Southeast for financial assistance with rent and utilities.

While going through the process here, Michael’s wife, Sylvia, often attended his financial coaching sessions. At one point, she decided she would like to receive assistance as well and enrolled in coaching in November. She has also successfully completed our Career Pathways Program and we are helping her with her job search. Sylvia also trained and is volunteering with us to assist with VITA.

In January 2016, Michael was finally approved through WorkOne to begin his CDL training. He attended a local truck driving school and quickly progressed through the training. On February 22, Michael came to Southeast to celebrate with the staff his graduation from the training. He is now working for Hirschbach Motor Lines, Inc. as a driver making $15/hour.  The family has clear goals for savings, home ownership and support for their children’s education. Their future is bright. Both Michael and Sylvia credit our coaches with helping their family get back on track, but we know they did the hard work on the road to success.

Click here to listen to the story on WFYI