Prior to joining our after-school program, “Jennifer” lived in our Sasha Bruce House crisis shelter. She was admitted into the shelter due to chronic abscondance and prostitution.
After 2 weeks at the shelter, Jennifer returned home only to run away again. However, this time when she ran away, she remained in touch and a staff person from the after-school program began to call Jennifer every day. As this staff person talked to Jennifer more and more, she learned that the place that Jennifer had run away to was very dangerous. So the Director made arrangements to bring her back to the shelter where her safety could be ensured.
A few days after Jennifer had been re-admitted, she got into and altercation with another resident which resulted in her being arrested. Her parents were called and ordered by the police to get her and take her home. It seemed as though Jennifer was never to return.
But Jennifer remained in touch with the staff person from the after-school program, and they began to have conversations about her future. Jennifer was disconnected from work and school, having dropped out of school in the 8th grade. Now she was sitting at home doing nothing with her time. She concluded that she wanted to find a job. The after-school staff person invited her to come by so that they could go out and apply for jobs together. Prior to going out, we prepped Jennifer by explaining that she should always ask to speak to the manager of the store, thank her/him for the time and consideration of her application, etc. They went to shops such as Victoria’s Secret, Foot Locker, Starbucks and Express. However, most jobs required that you be 18 and Jennifer was only 16. But the manager of Nine West was so impressed with Jennifer’s presentation that she set up an interview time with her on the spot. Jennifer came back to the program the next day dressed professionally and ready for her interview. We prepped her by asking her some questions that might be asked in the interview. Staff also had Jennifer do internet research on the history and background of Nine West to prepare her for the interview. Jennifer passed with flying colors and was offered the job on the same day of her interview! Jennifer was in a state of unbelief. She stated, “I never thought my first job would be with Nine West, I thought I would have to get a fast food job.”
After this experience, Jennifer’s confidence level soared, and she finally began to believe in herself and her capabilities. Where she had no confidence and self-esteem in the past, she now has it. She is doing wonderfully at home and is no longer engaging in prostitution. She recently stated, “I now have something to stay home for, I am not running away anymore.” In fact, Jennifer works in the same shopping mall as her mother so they often have lunch. Jennifer feels more mature now that she is a “working woman.” Jennifer is also doing very well at work, especially since she is a lover of shoes; the job is a perfect fit for her. Her volume of sales is higher than most of her co-workers. Another exciting moment was when she got her very first pay check. She called staff just to inform them. In the near future, we plan to work with Jennifer and her family to get her enrolled in a GED program.