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Nettie regains her self-worth through a second chance

“I joined Cara in 2012 and was coming into it with a background. I got charged with drug possession in the early ’90s. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that mistake would follow me for all my life. I had years of experience working in the medical field and had my associate degree, but that was all invalidated by my background.

“I thought I’d never be able to find a decent job again. I did housekeeping jobs, cleaning toilets and floors. I did whatever job I had to do just to get by and take care of my family. I have two children, one being my son who suffers from PTSD. They were counting on me.

“When I first heard about Cara, I was in a bad spot. I had lost my house, so we had to relocate to a shelter for a while. A social worker there connected me to Cara. At first I was reluctant to join, but she explained that it’s not like other job training programs and that it creates real success for people.

“When I got to Cara, I was really shy. I had lost all self-confidence. After going into the Motivations circle and finding a community with the other participants, I was able to find my self-worth again. I’m so glad I got to meet new people. I’m still friends with many of them today.

“Going through Cara helped me realize that I really did deserve the best that life has to offer regardless of my mistakes. I didn’t want to settle just because of my background. Being around participants who were in similar situations helped me through it. We were all rooting for each other. The staff at Cara kept me motivated, and they gave me a shot at getting a meaningful job again. After weeks of training, I got a position at The Chicago Lighthouse as a Customer Service Agent. Since then, I’ve worked many jobs in that field and have come a long way. I have stable housing, a steady income, and safety for my children.

“Going through Cara helped me realize that I really did deserve the best that life has to offer regardless of my mistakes. I didn’t want to settle just because of my background.”

“Last year, I needed job support again, so I came back to Cara for the second time. I really wanted to go back to working in the medical field and was willing to put in the work. I was able to get part of my record expunged a few years ago through Cabrini Green Legal Aid, which meant I was finally eligible to work in a hospital again. I came in with motivation, drive, and a positive attitude. Because of that,  the Cara team helped me secure a position with RUSH University Medical Center as a Guest Relations Associate!

“When employers overlook people with a background, they’re missing out on good quality work. People will go above and beyond if you let them. You just have to give them a chance. I was only associated with a crime, and that suddenly meant I wasn’t capable of having a good paying, decent job.

“Now, I have a job that I’m proud of and I own my own business on the side. I have a lot going for me now, regardless of my past. My story shows that if you just give someone a chance, they will take the opportunity and run with it.”

Your support means more participants like Nettie can find gainful employment and transform their life regardless of their missteps. Help fuel another person’s journey today.