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Freddie connects with a new beginning

Freddie, a Cara Connects worker who started his journey with us in October 2018, shares going from unemployed to becoming an essential worker keeping our communities safe.

“I have been living in the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood for about 20 years. I’m a homeowner here, and my kids grew up here. A couple years ago, my mom got sick. I am the oldest of five, and I was the only one that was able to take care of her. I stayed with her for about eight months before she died. Then I came home to Chicago and I had to start my career anew.

“I was very fortunate to have a good career as an electrical engineer. But I found myself without a job for the first time in my life. I went to Northwest Center for some housing resources they provided, and they connected me to Cara Connects. That’s where my Cara journey started. I was in need, and Cara came to the rescue. That’s how I looked at it.”

I grew in the process

“With the support of the Cara Connects team, I was placed into a role as a COVID relief team manager. I managed three teams, all responding to different needs in the Belmont-Cragin community, ultimately keeping our residents, especially the most vulnerable, safe amid the global pandemic.

“In this job, I found that I like to teach. I tried to stretch my employees. I tried to make them a little bit better as professionals. I got to work on my own supervisory skills. We had to manage issues with business owners if people didn’t show up or showed up late. Also, some people spoke Spanish and others did not. It’s all part of managing and running a crew. Not only did I try to grow my three teams, but I grew in the process as well. It reinforced my love for training others.”

The importance of what we were doing

“Everybody on my team realized the importance of what we were doing.

“We provided essential services, provided food, made essential calls, tried to help our elderly, and cleaned restaurants that needed relief. It was all about getting the people on board, so that when we ramped up to another phase, we’d have the resources to clean in one location or another.

“A lot of the older adults we serviced were lonely. In addition to providing resources, we were also making their day!”

A positive impact on my life

“My role was on a contract that ran out after about a year on the job. Cara Connects was once again there to help me find my next opportunity. I was able to leverage everything I learned through Cara and Northwest Center to secure a fantastic job with Metropolitan Family Services. I am their new Health Equity Supervisor. Cara has made such a positive impact on my life. They’re been a blessing, not only to me, but to the people in my community.”

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