“Hannah”: Working Through a Pandemic
At a time when 13% of working parents were cutting back their paid working hours or leaving the workforce entirely, Hannah was actively submerged in employability skills training and tailored job search. Within the first six months of the pandemic, she was employed full time. This success was just one of many for Hannah and was the direct result of dedicated intention toward her long-term goals.
A single mother of five school aged children, Hannah appeared to have the odds stacked against her when she came to Life-Work Planning Center. Raised in a small town with an intact and close-knit family, Hannah struggled with reading as a young student. By junior high she was struggling with finding healthy social connections as well. Despite her parent’s strict rules and expectations, Hannah began smoking and drinking at a young age.
Although surrounded by unhealthy relationships as a senior in high school, Hannah made the decision to pursue a college education. She had a particularly difficult year of college marked with many hurdles. Following the loss of her father Hannah underwent heart surgery herself. Hannah shared, “I lost myself and went on a downward spiral. I lost not only my dad, but my best friend. The one person who knew me best.” Nevertheless, she persisted. Hannah graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Corrections and Alcohol and Drug Studies.
Following college, Hannah went on to build her family. The relationships she found herself in continued to be unhealthy, unsafe even. Navigating life as essentially a single mother, Hannah managed a successful career in health care. Hannah describes the only barrier to her career as a lack of adequate childcare.
Surviving domestic violence, facing homelessness, her children being placed in foster care – none of these struggles stopped Hannah’s passion or desire to continue her career for herself and for her family. Another provider Hannah was working with shared information about Life-Work Planning Center with Hannah when they learned she was looking for employment but experiencing daycare issues. Hannah reached out and immediately began working one-on-one with a self-sufficiency counselor to create a resume and cover letter to apply for THE job she wanted with THE employer she wanted. Hannah had zero hesitation in achieving her long-term goals.
Unfortunately, Hannah didn’t get a call back from her application submission and within a matter of weeks COVID-19 had the world in lock down. Schools and daycares shut down, meaning that one barrier to employment for Hannah was now looking like an impossible mountain to climb. Again, she persisted.
Hannah participated in the first round of virtual pre-employment workshops with Life-Work Planning Center. She continued to meet one-on-one virtually with a self-sufficiency counselor for job search, mock interviews, and to explore additional resources as well as education and training opportunities. Hannah learned how to utilize her Myers Briggs and Strong Skills Inventory assessment results in resume creation and when answering tough interview questions. Life-Work Planning Center provided basic needs support, transportation, and rent assistance to Hannah as she worked towards her goals and stabilizing her family. Hannah also completed the Para Pro class with Adult Basic Education and continued to put in job applications within the health care field. She again applied for the exact position she wanted, this time being invited in for an interview and offered the position.
Hannah has now accepted the opportunity to relocate and advance in her career. Pre-pandemic full time working women spent 50% more time caring for children daily then full-time working fathers. As a frontline worker in healthcare Hannah is not able to work remotely, increasing this burden of childcare further; yet she continues to experience inflexibility with meeting these childcare needs because of the pandemic’s ongoing effects. She reports that having a set schedule and not working weekends keeps her loyal to her employer, in addition to the passion for her clients.
“I gained a positive support system and was reminded of the good things in life through working with Life-Work Planning Center,” said Hannah. She shared that the entire process was helpful to her getting where she is today; working as a Behavior Therapist, in a healthy relationship, and working through past traumas with her children. Hannah wants other women to “remember to breathe” and “look at what positive you can gain from every experience, even the worst experiences.”
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the subject of this story.*