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Pashk Accepts Change to Find Opportunity

“I had a hard time finding a job after immigrating to the United States from Albania. Since I hadn’t worked or gone to school here in America, companies didn’t want to hire me because ‘I didn’t have experience,’ even though I had worked in sales and management for many years back home.

“My wife works in the Chicago nonprofit sector and heard about how Cleanslate, Cara’s flagship social enterprise, provided employment and a pathway to a long-term career. She encouraged me to look into their job opportunities, so I called Cleanslate’s office to set up a time to visit and learn more about their program.

“I came to Cleanslate with my resume in hand and was surprised to learn about how their crews take care of Chicago neighborhoods. It was humbling; I never pictured myself cleaning streets after the career I had in Albania.

“But I knew I had to change my behavior, especially the way I viewed myself and the kind of job I wanted. I had to change in order to be a part of American culture, and I was grateful to have Cleanslate and Cara to help me transition. I knew I would be able to make a difference and serve the Chicago community in this new role. I decided that every day, even if I had to wake up as early as 4 am, I would give it my all. 

“The work was challenging because it was a hot summer and I was still practicing my English. I would clean one block, but then I would get mixed up by the street signs and end up cleaning an extra block or two by mistake. Things got easier as I saw myself getting better; and after a couple of weeks, Cara’s Corporate Account Managers started calling me with potential long-term job opportunities.

“One opportunity that I was particularly excited about was with the Chicago Furniture Bank. Cara helped me prepare for the interview process and gave me ideas about how I could highlight my new Cleanslate experience.

“I got the job and began picking up furniture donations and bringing them to people’s homes who needed them. I joined a team of essential workers because people can’t be quarantined at home and not have a bed to sleep in.

“I think my job has given me a master’s degree in Chicago culture, which is something I really wanted and needed after coming from another country. My friend Michael and I were paired up to do deliveries together, and he taught me about the different neighborhoods that make up our city. I’ve really enjoyed meeting and getting to know people in their homes all across Chicago.

“Thank you Cleanslate and Cara for helping me get this opportunity. Over the past year, I’ve been able to achieve many goals, one of which was being promoted to Operations Manager. If I hadn’t changed and embraced a sense of humility, I would have missed the chance to make a positive impact on my community both at Cleanslate and now at the Chicago Furniture Bank.

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