Workforce Success Story Submitted By:
Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, Inc.
On July 30, 2008, Amanda Cruz, a 19 year old homeless teenager who lived most of her life in crisis and lacked career direction, job skills, and work experience, came to PA CareerLink Lehigh Valley in Allentown, PA. Amanda grew up in a household that included domestic violence, mental illness, physical abuse and regular police intervention. Her father has been in prison since a domestic violence incident when Amanda was 2 years old. After his incarceration, the family often lived in homeless shelters. Children and Youth caseworkers, therapists, and counselors became part of their daily life.
As a result of her chaotic and dysfunctional childhood, Amanda became rebellious, abused alcohol and drugs, and was excessively truant. Her relationship with her mother and sister was volatile, and when her mother asked her to leave at 18, Amanda became homeless, living wherever she could. She eventually connected with Valley Youth House’s Independent Living Program where she was given safe housing and began to think about ways to improve herself and her life.
Amanda enrolled in PA CareerLink® Lehigh Valley’s Youth Program. On September 8, 2008 she started a comprehensive employment/academic program focusing on customer service/technology, job readiness and life skills training at Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSLV) to prepare her to enter a productive career. Amanda was a model student who received 16 awards recognizing achievement and accomplishment in attendance, team building, academics and community service. Amanda successfully completed the program on June 8, 2009 with certificates in Customer Service and Technology. Additionally, she earned eleven Continuing Education Units from PSLV's Continuing and Distance Education Department.
Outcomes & Benefits
Through her participation in the program, Amanda was hired by Goodwill Industries as a part-time janitor. Amanda was promoted to lead worker and then custodial project manager, utilizing her customer service skills and earning $12.00 per hour. She now supervises a nine member crew, monitors three subcontractor sites, oversees quality control, payroll, inventory, and handles all personnel matters. She has a home office and travels to Harrisburg to attend monthly management meetings. She has a company issued laptop and expense account. Amanda loves her job, received a raise and is in the process of buying a home.
Amanda is an overcomer. She doesn’t look back and has no regrets. Her faith has helped her remain focused and positive. She credits PSLV and PA CareerLink® Lehigh Valley for helping her to realize her goals, build self-confidence and believe in herself. "Regardless of everything that I have experienced, I still believe you can accomplish anything if you do not give up," said Amanda. She is a youth ambassador for PA CareerLink® Lehigh Valley and attends recruitment events talking to youth about her experience and success in the program.