Karen’s Success Story

At SJW, we make sure to celebrate each and every person who gets a job by having them ring the success bell while all of us gather to applaud and cheer. Regardless of our specific roles within SJW, we all feel immense joy and satisfaction when the job bell rings, especially when you get a feeling that the person in front of you will probably be okay now. That was how it felt with Karen, the beautiful woman in these pictures.

Like nearly everyone who walks into SJW, Karen was struggling for survival and desperately wanted things to get better. She came to our SJW 5800 location one day while the office was closed, but Employment and Recruiting Specialist Mandi let Karen in anyway and asked her what she needed. Mandi says, “I told her about open jobs and what we can do to help. After which, she thanked me for opening the door and talking to her. But I didn’t hear anything back from her immediately. A week later she showed up and looked like she was in a rough mental state. We were crazy busy in the office, but I stopped, looked at her, and asked if she was good. She just started crying. She explained that she had been kicked out of her home in Minnesota and was now in AZ with no family or friends. She had nowhere to go and was trying desperately to get on her feet. She needed to get into a shelter but no one had room. She was distraught, scared and frustrated, but she still showed up to SJW to work on her resume. We soon got her set up with Upper Crust Bakery for an interview, then gave her all of the resources she would need to be successful.” Proudly, Mandi states, “Karen continued to show up, no matter how beaten down she was. She held herself accountable. The next day, she got into CASS (Central Arizona Shelter Services), and she starts work at UCB on Friday.” As she came to SJW’s main campus to pick up more resources, she rang the bell.

At SJW, we talk about disadvantaged but motivated job seekers who truly want to better their situations but need a hand up before they can become employed. That motivation looks different on different people, but it is a privilege to witness this unmistakable determination and inner drive to create a better life. Karen’s determination was striking. I believe it was that to which Mandi was drawn, leading her to help Karen when she could have said “we are closed,” and asking her if she was “good” when she could have ignored her or simply told her to wait her turn. Karen’s beautiful face radiates pure joy at getting a job and what that will mean to putting her life back together. It also shows her immense gratitude for the help that SJW gave her so she could get that job.hank you Mandi, and the whole SJW team for making people like Karen a priority, serving even when you could choose not to, and truly living the SJW mission of empowering others by ensuring that there is Employment without Barriers for all who want to work! We know that employment heals – one individual, one job at a time; and we are ever grateful to be a part of this process for thousands of individuals each year. We also thank our community partners like you for your invaluable financial support, without which we wouldn’t be able to help people like Karen and share their beautiful and inspiring stories.