Second Chance Helps to Overcome Employment Obstacles

Monarch's Employment Support Professional Mitchel Stewart, left, and Jeremy Lee, right.

Monarch’s Employment Support Professional Mitchel Stewart, left, meets regularly with Jeremy Lee to see how his work as a production worker at Goodwill is progressing.

Jeremy Lee’s zest for life and personal motivation is evident when he talks about the work he is doing as a production worker at the Goodwill Industries of Central North Carolina in Guilford County. Jeremy spent eight years incarcerated and is grateful at the second chance he has been offered.

Today, he looks forward to going to work and has enterprising plans for the future. He recently celebrated his two year work anniversary with Goodwill on September 1. His life mirrors what he dreamed about throughout the years his freedom was restricted.

“All you need is someone to believe in you and believe in yourself and you can make it work,” Jeremy, 32, attests, adding that the support of his family and friends and services through Monarch’s Individual Placement and Support (IPS) has made a life-changing difference.

He began looking for a job just as the pandemic was beginning in 2020 and furloughs were happening. Few companies were hiring. He tried on his own to find employment but was not successful. He wasn’t just searching for a job but for someone to give him a chance.

He was paired with Monarch’s Employment Support Professional Mitchel Stewart who serves on Monarch’s Guilford IPS team with their initial meetings done virtually because of social distancing in place.

IPS services not only find employment but offer support maintaining a job and perfecting life skills that promote success such as financial budgeting. Mitchel helped Jeremy to gain confidence with interview skills and how to talk with potential employers: “He needed confidence in going to different employers to talk with them, explain what kind of job that he wants. I helped in that area and also in setting goals and identifying what he wanted to achieve.”

Mitchel connected Jeremy to his first job but it was not a good fit. The job search began again but this time with Mitchel suggesting Jeremy attend Goodwill’s Jobs-On-The-Outside program. Jeremy was willing to explore any avenue to assist in continued job search. The program is structured to help people with a past legal conviction receive career training for workplace skills and job search. After Jeremy completed the course, Goodwill extended the job offer for his current role.

“There are two main things that I like about my job at Goodwill,” he begins. “I get to see all the other employees and customers. It is really exciting to see all these people and get to know the company. I get to know everybody.” The other, he continues, is seeing the donated items that range from funny, outrageous to items that turn out to be rare or valuable.

As a production worker, Jeremy begins his day at the Goodwill warehouse in Greensboro and then travels with staff to different Triad-area locations assisting with retail events with tasks including building store shelving and displays and moving product into the store.

Mitchel is most proud of Jeremy staying true to the goals he sets and a dedicated work ethic. “I am so happy for him. I am very proud of Jeremy. When he says he is going to do something, he is going to do it,” Mitchel observes.

Jeremy is grateful for the support from Monarch’s IPS team and Mitchel. “I am not sure if I would have found the position with Goodwill without him but it is hard to think about where I would have been because he is part of my life. I know he is there and I depend on him,” Jeremy confides. “I am sure if I lost my job tomorrow he would be there with a smile and saying, ‘Let’s go get something else.’”

What does it mean to Jeremy to have someone believe in him? “Believing can change reality. Believing that you can, you will be more likely to succeed. It definitely helps having someone believe in you. Mitchel believed that I could do it, inspired me and encouraged me every step of the way.”

Future plans that Jeremy is thinking about include saving money to purchase a vehicle, pursuing a management position within Goodwill and possibly moving to the maintenance team since he enjoys fixing things and working with his hands. He also has a few side job plans he is considering as well.

For more information about Monarch’s IPS services and the North Carolina counties in which the service is available, visit here.

Posted on: Wednesday September 28, 2022