Candace's Journey: In Her Own Words

“I am a single mother of two daughters - this year they will be 15 and 17 years old, and I have just been offered a permanent position at the State of Illinois DMV. You’re talking about someone who went from surviving with two children on less than $7,000 a year for the past 3-4 years. So somebody who went from that…to now graduating with a state position…A lot of things that I wanted to do are coming to fruition.”

Candace’s success did not come easy or overnight. It was a process that the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) was fortunate enough to walk through with her, beginning when she came to our U-Turn Permitted Orientation in 2016.

More Than Hope: A Bridge to Success

“What struck me about NLEN is that they seemed to have a structured and focused curriculum for those who have a background. That interested me because I am a part of that population. A lot of us have to deal with stigma and barriers to employment and education. North Lawndale Employment Network seemed to set themselves up to be a bridge to success…The most precious gift that NLEN gave us and so many others is the opportunity to grow despite our imperfections and faults.”

Candace and her UTP classmates didn’t grow in a vacuum - they grew together. More Than a Job: A Family

“Fortunately me and my classmates were able to support one another. We didn’t have a car so we walked together to lunch. If we didn’t bring our own lunch we shared with one another. We uplifted one another. We called and checked on one another. If we didn’t see one another we’d hit them up on Facebook and say 'Where you at?' And we had the whole (NLEN) team- sometimes just having a listening ear or getting a hug could bring people to break down into tears just to have someone understand them. They changed the minds of those who thought they had no choice, they had no outlet, they had messed up so bad and weren’t worthy of a second chance.” Now Candace is determined to make some changes of her own.

How She's Creating a Community that Works:

“It is that type of selflessness that keeps people coming back, especially people like myself who have reaped the rewards and can come back for others and be a bridge just like North Lawndale Employment Network is a bridge over troubled waters. This journey with NLEN is not over yet because now I see myself as an advocate for people who come through the (U-Turn) program to be able to get state jobs. I will definitely be advocating and trying to serve as a liaison as much as I can.”