News : Call Center Training Brings Hope for Graduates
Toledo, OH, USA, Dec, 2017 -- After battling an opioid addiction for 10 years, Denise Johnson was searching for stability. She found that support system when she enrolled in the Call Center Customer Training program at Cherry Street’s Life Revitalization Center.
Not only did she find comfort in her cohort of 14 other students, but she benefited from a structured educational environment that led to employment.
Cherry Street Mission Ministries is celebrating Ms. Johnson and her classmates at the graduation of the call center program 1:30 p.m. Friday.
The program is administered by the Cherry Street’s Life Revitalization Center and runs five days a week for nine weeks. Cherry Street partnered with Northwest State Community College to host the call center vocational program. Each student will receive a certificate for completing the course. Ten of the 15 participants have secured jobs before graduation.
From 9 a.m. to noon each day, students studied a curriculum that focused on communication skills and preparing them to work at a call center. During the one-hour group sessions that followed, they focused on developing life skills.
"We covered resume building, mock interviews, budgeting, finances, you name it," said Michelle Blue, a community recruiter for Cherry Street and group leader for the class.
"They’re able to be relational and learn from each other," she said. "That’s what this is about is building relationships because it’s a cohort. So they learn together, they grow together, and hopefully become employed together. "
In 2016, 27 percent of adults reported having a post secondary certificate, a certification or license., according to a 2017 education survey published by the U.S. Department of Education.
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Among those adults, 82 percent said those credentials was "very useful" in helping them get a job.
On the last day of class the students sat at tables reflecting on how they defined success.
"Six figures," one student shouted.
"Happiness," said another.
Most of the student had to overcome some barriers to not only attend the class but also to graduate.
Ms. Johnson caught the bus from East Toledo every day to attend class. She and her classmates credit Cherry Street for providing a stable environment that helped them succeed.
"They help us get through any obstacles that would prevent us from being here everyday and on time," she said.
The students were provided bus tokens for transportation, backpacks, childcare, and Goodwill vouchers to purchase work-appropriate attire. Ms. Johnson was able to buy a couple pair of slacks, some shirts, and a stylish pair of winter boots for only $4.
"They are warm and I wear them every day," she said with a smile.
"The reason we entered into doing this is the reason we have the entire Life Revitalization Center because it’s important for people to be healthy and whole," said Max Lambdin, Senior Vice President of Cherry Street Mission Ministries.
Half of the graduating class is homeless. It’s a diverse group — young, old, white, and black. But here, their differences are irrelevant. They have bonded over the course of this nine-week goal.
"We bonded telling our stories and sharing our life experiences in group," Sharon Hunter said.
"Now we’re like family," she said. "I’m really going to miss them. I’m really going to miss them."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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