In August 2015, Ellen stepped up and onto a career pathway. She was a returning citizen who went through Towards Employment job readiness program. She decided she wanted a career in construction and after a work experience with Habitat for Humanity, she achieved a Level 1 carpenter’s apprentice certification with just two levels left to become a journeyman. She felt a deep sense of achievement but sometimes it felt as if she was just earning a paycheck. She talked a bit to her career coaches about “purpose.” She wanted to work with purpose.
Towards Employment was in the process of opening Bloom Bakery. The shift supervisor slot was open. Ellen’s career coaches went to bat for her – they knew she would be perfect and it would achieve her goal of working with purpose. Ellen interviewed the next day – and left the interview knowing that this was something she wanted to do. It was not construction but she felt ready. She was called back that day for a second interview and hired on the on the spot.
Now part of the leadership team, Ellen is director of retail operations – with day to day responsibilities of supervising the retail staff, the catering business, and growing the sales of this social enterprise. Ellen often shares her experience with employers, funders and other Bloom visitors. She can truly articulate the importance of transitional jobs– specifically for people returning from incarceration.
“There are very specific hurdles that we face that others do not. Bloom’s mission is to help people to learn a new skill and a new outlook so they are prepared for work. When they come to us they may not be able to work that first job – after working in the bakery or on the retail side, scheduling and thinking through the day’s next step are easier. We help people so they are ready for the next employer.”
“I feel I have purpose. I am part of the first generation of Bloom employees – we (and I always include myself) have to succeed because we need others to have this chance.”