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Economic needs turn into economic opportunity

 8/21/2019

Many organizations in Oklahoma are working toward education and job skills training for the unemployed and underemployed. In fall 2018, Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy (TWCA) began partnering with OK SNAP Works to provide recipients of Oklahoma’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with both specific job skills training and broader soft-skill development..

Oklahoma SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger. Now, through OK SNAP Works, recipients are also given the opportunity to gain skills, education, training and work experience.

“I help individuals on SNAP get to the right place,” Amanda, OK SNAP Works Field Representative said. “This includes a place where they receive the support needed to obtain credentials that provide employment opportunities previously unavailable to them.”

Through the partnership TWCA has served 126 OK SNAP Works recipients. Including Jimmy (left) who recently moved to Tulsa from Puerto Rico. “I came to Oklahoma when my wife and I lost everything in Hurricane Maria,” Jimmy said.

Jimmy and his wife lived in Brightwater Apartments in Tulsa, a community that recently received funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhood Initiative. He and his wife began receiving assistance from OK SNAP for groceries and support from the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma for housing and community resource navigation.

“I became depressed sitting at home all day and night,” Jimmy remembered. “I was unable to provide for my family like I had always done.” But then he was referred to Goodwill.

Jimmy’s previous work experience as a security guard in Puerto Rico gave him confidence as he trained to earn his CLEET license. The first week of class Jimmy was offered a job by a guest speaker from Owl Night Security and quickly began work upon earning his license.

Once completely dependent on the state’s many resources, Jimmy and his wife now live completely independent. “I am no longer in my home all day and night,” he shared. “I have a good job with good pay that allows me to pay my rent, buy my groceries, have two vehicles and be a good person in the community.”

The power of collaboration is showcased in Jimmy’s story. OK SNAP Works provided the funding necessary for him to attend class, provided transportation assistance, and also paid all of his licensing fees associated with his CLEET License. “I was expecting to find a way to pay on my own,” Jimmy said. “But everyone looked for resources to help me.”

“I hope our future shows continued growth and we see even more individuals have success like Jimmy,” Amanda shared. “TWCA’s support system and comfortable atmosphere allow participants to build their confidence and know they will make a valued contribution to any employer when hired.”

Goodwill’s mission is to provide work opportunities, job training and support services for people with employment barriers. Goodwill is proud to be one of the many vital pieces that turned a family with economic need into a family with economic opportunity.

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