Vincent is a 40-year-old Oakland resident and a dedicated and loving father of four teenage kids. At the time of his first visit to The Unity Council, Vincent was facing many challenges; he was unemployed and could not find an affordable place to live with his family. He was overwhelmed by his situation and did not know where to start to change it. Vincent’s story shows the resilience of job seekers in the Fruitvale and brings to the light the barriers many people like him have to face to find employment.
“I was lost without good directions; I did not even know where to look for work. I did not have goals; I did not know where to start,” said Vincent while looking back to his employment situation before receiving services.
Vincent was referred to The Unity Council’s Fruitvale Neighborhood Career Center by a friend. The Center offers many services including job search and job application assistance, one-on-one employment counseling, financial vouching for improving credit and savings, and housing coaching. All services are offered at the same location, which allows clients to receive more than one service if they need it.
“Before The Unity Council, it was bad. I did not have any direction, no resources. As soon as I walked into the Career Center, there were job postings and school options.”
At the Center, Vincent was introduced to Career and Financial Coach, Jenny Inprasueth. Jenny helped Vincent create a resume and a cover letter and apply for jobs. Vincent was even given a bus pass to get to his job interviews. Within 2 weeks of his first visit, Vincent was employed full-time in a warehouse position.
“The transportation was my biggest issue. I couldn’t look for work because I could not move around,” said Vincent of his situation. “Ms. Jenny gave me a bus pass. I went to as many interviews as I was called for, I had no excuse. I was getting help applying for jobs, and I had a bus pass to get to my interviews.”
The next step for The Unity Council’s team was to help Vincent find an affordable place to live. Jenny referred Vincent to Caleb Smith, the Housing and Financial Coach. Caleb found Vincent open housing opportunities and helped him prepare to apply. Caleb ran Vincent’s credit report and discovered fraudulent items, which he helped to remove. But there was one more obstacle on Vincent’s path; he had little to no credit history and little savings to pay for the deposit on the apartment for which he had applied. This is when Financial Opportunities Coordinator, Clarissa Johnson, stepped in to help Vincent open a checking and savings account at a local credit union. Clarissa helped him secure a small starter loan to cover the cost of the deposit and improve his credit. Vincent was able to move into an apartment in December.
In 3 months of working with the coaches at The Unity Council, Vincent found employment, secured stable housing, improved his credit, and created a savings plan. He was recently hired by Tesla as Material Handler and looks forward to growing within the company. Vincent’s story reflects the benefits of integrating different services and programs and making them available in the same location.
“I appreciate the professionalism and genuine care they always gave me. The coaches made me want to come back here and work harder and excel,” Vincent said when asked about The Unity Council’s staff. “I liked that all services are integrated. I didn’t feel overwhelmed, everything I needed was in one building and staff was available to talk to me all the time. They are all cross-trained; if someone was not available, I could talk to someone else and still receive services.”
Vincent is an amazing human being that is willing to work hard to get ahead and be able to provide the best for his children. His success story pushes staff to keep working hard to provide services and inspires other clients to keep on going on until they meet their goals.
Visit the Fruitvale Neighborhood Career Center page for more information on career and job, financial and housing services.