Thursday, April 23, 2015

More than a Counselor blog series: #1 - Meet Holly Hanson

Meet Holly Hanson, career counselor and job developer for JobTrain’s construction training programs, Project Build and Laborers Construction Fundamentals. Holly provides students with one-on-one career counseling and job placement assistance to ensure their success. However, her work goes beyond counseling, career placement and a 9-to-5 schedule. She is a mentor and is available to her students for just about anything.  For the next 8 months, Holly is going to share stories about her work with different students so you can have a better understanding of JobTrain’s students and the impact JobTrain’s work has on their lives.

In this first blog post, Holly shares the story of her work with a single father in Project Build.

Mike was unemployed and came to the Unemployment Development Department, located at JobTrain’s offices, to file for unemployment. It was during this meeting that he first learned about JobTrain’s free vocational training classes and decided to enroll. I first met with Mike at orientation and he shared with me that he had previously attended vocational training offered by another organization.  He was now $30,000 in debt and still had no job.  The previous training had promised him a job at the end of his training, but when he graduated he found that there was little to no demand for the position he had trained for. Mike is a single father so to support his daughter he took a job as a security guard. Unfortunately, he was barely making ends meet and then to make it worse, his work hours were reduced.

Mike was determined not to fail his daughter. When I met with him for our first one-on-one session, I knew that he would be a great candidate for Project Build because he was organized, punctual and thoughtful about his future. I also connected him to our on-site child development center so that his 4-year-old daughter had a safe place to be while he attended classes. Shortly after he enrolled in the program, I noticed that he was struggling to maintain focus in the class. I asked Mike to meet with me to see if he was okay. Mike then shared that the mother of his child is an alcoholic and abuses alcohol in the presence of their child. He was in the process of helping her enter a treatment facility. Mike explained, “My child needs her mother whether we are together or not. My daughter deserves to have two parents.”

Mike is a good student despite his personal struggles with single parenting. We continue to have regular check-ins to see which unions he has researched and applied for as well as regular updates on how he and his daughter are doing.  I love seeing him and his daughter leave together after school.  The true happiness I see on their faces shows that despite Mike’s stress, he never lets it affect his ability to be a good father.

Stay tuned for next month’s blog post on Holly’s work with a student who was previously incarcerated and looking to start a new chapter in his life.