Employed For Change
Here are a few stories of how employees have journeyed to The Giving Keys.
My name is Alexa and life before The Giving Keys was very different from what it is now. I was married for 8 years, and my husband and I had two homes. The marriage began to fall apart and we ended up getting separated. I found a job working as a caregiver for the elderly, but when my patient passed away suddenly, I needed to find a job right away. My brother told me about an organization who could help me find a job called Chrysalis.
I took several classes through Chrysalis and started my first temp job cleaning at Skid Row Trust House. I moved to a desk clerk position, but due to budget cuts, they let several people go and I was one of them. I waited patiently as six slow months went by before I got a call from Chrysalis, who offered me a temp position at The Giving Keys. One of the managers at The Giving Keys said I was fast and efficient and if there was an opening later, they would call me back. I eventually got a call back and now I am full time at The Giving Keys.
The environment here at The Giving Keys is different. At my other jobs, I felt like management didn’t have my back, I didn’t feel safe. But at The Giving Keys I feel like I’m wanted. I’m accepted for me and my cup is full. This is a place where I feel safe and I can trust people. My word before The Giving Keys was HOPE, but now my word is GRATEFUL.
Before The Giving Keys I was working at Skid Row Housing Trust and got connected to The Giving Keys through Chrysalis. During my interview with The Giving Keys, they asked me what my word would be. I told them my word would be COURAGE. I was so afraid of doing things -- even opening my mouth. As a child I suffered from low self esteem. I have learned that sometimes you just gotta step out in faith. I was so happy to get the job, and I still have my COURAGE key. Now I got a promotion to Customer Service Assistant, and I process incoming orders and help with customer support. One of my favorite parts of the job is writing the gift notes; the things people say to each other is very inspiring.
The Giving Keys has taught me to be more open and more humble. It’s an environment of love that has heightened my passion for helping people. I want to spend my life doing what I love: reaching out to people through customer service.
I think my next word would be VICTORY. Victory means to me, no matter what I put my mind to, you will overcome and be victorious. It may take a lot of work, but each and every step is a step towards victory. My dream is to go back to school to learn more about business and to own a home. I want to grow in the company, do more and aim higher.
“There are times in my life when I’ve taken some stupid shortcuts to get where I wanted to go...most of the time it didn’t really work out. I couldn’t blame anyone for the choices I’d made, it was all on me. I had to start playing my cards right.
I want to do it right, make something I’m proud of, something that represents me, all of me. No corners cut, no excuses.”
I'm Darnell. My challenges all started about four or five years ago when the recession was in full swing. In my quest for employment, I traveled to a few different states: Arizona, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and California. Fortunately, a friend of mine told me about a place called Chrysalis. At first I was kind of apprehensive because I had already been to a few employment agencies that all promised employment, but I was still unemployed and frustrated out of my mind.
I had nothing to lose, so eventually I decided to give Chrysalis a shot. This was my doorway to The Giving Keys, and for this I am extremely grateful. Today I have a job with people I love, and I work in a highly unusual environment that feels like family.
It has been a long journey, but I now consider myself very fortunate to have landed at The Giving Keys doorstep. It has had a huge impact on my life.
Jeff and Norma came to us through our past partnership with PATH (People Assisting the Homeless). The two were strangers who met while engraving keys and ended up falling in love and getting engaged. Over the last few months they individually saved up enough money and moved into their own apartments.
Norma explains, "My name is Norma Cruz and I am a single mother with two sons. Michael is 22 years old and wants to be a doctor and Christian is six years old with a severe case of autism. I worked a full time job but due to many medical evaluations and the need to take care of my son, I ended up losing my job and as a consequence we became homeless. Eventually I became a resident of PATH. At PATH I was invited to be part of The Giving Key project. I want to thank you Caitlin for the amazing opportunity. It is very hard for me to commit to a full-time job because I have to be available for my son at all times. The Giving Keys saved my life because I was able to engrave keys on my own time, save enough to move into my apartment and pay for our family's important expenses. This project has been a tremendous blessing in my life. Also, I met Jeff, the love of my life through working together!"
Jeff shares,"In South Carolina, a lot of things were really hard and my wife ended up cheating on me with my best friend and I went through a rough time. I ended up homeless for a while in Santa Monica. I was referred to PATH which helped me meet all the requirements to get a voucher for housing and accomplish everything faster than usual. The job search was very hectic here in California until I heard of The Giving Keys project at PATH. When I met the team at The Giving Keys, their motivation inspired me to push harder and to get what I wanted in life. They helped me save money to move into an apartment and also meet my lovely Norma. We ended up falling in love and I asked her to marry me! The keys brought us together. I want to thank everyone who has helped me excel in my life."
- JEFF + NORMA