Derek Rogers, Baltimore, MD

“I came to the program in January after being referred by a staffing agency who did not have employment opportunities for me, due to my criminal background. I was released from incarceration in October 2018 after having served 21 years in prison. I applied for and received SNAP benefits that month. I was searching for employment but was unsuccessful. I worked with program staff to review my enrollment materials, determine what type of employment I was interested in, and get assistance with interview preparation. I was introduced to Sales Representatives who referred me to employment opportunities with employers who valued my work ethic and experience and who were willing to give me an opportunity despite my past conviction. On February 7, 2019, I was hired as a Warehouse and Production Associate in the Hanover, Maryland area. I have been working 12-hour shifts, which I really enjoy, and have been receiving overtime pay. I feel that without the help of the program, I would not have been able to get off of SNAP and into employment. Because of them, I have reentered society, I am self-sufficient, and I am proud of my job.

—Derek Rogers, Baltimore, MD

Mariah C., St. Louis, MO

“I am only 18 years old with 1 child. I didn’t have any work experience prior to visiting the program. They were immediately able to identify an employer to set up an interview. Before sending me to the interview, they went over possible interview questions with me and had me complete a character strengths survey, so I had additional tools to help sell myself to the employer. I got the position. I am now a customer service and front desk representative earning $10.50 an hour, and I just hit my 30-day milestone last week. I want to get a year of work experience under my belt and then move on to even bigger and better things.”

—Mariah C., St. Louis, MO

Dewanna C., St. Louis, MO

“I had been receiving SNAP benefits for a little more than 3 years. I have 7 children who are dependent on me and I had not worked in roughly 10 years. At our initial meeting, I told America Works that I hadn’t worked in a very long time, and was scared and apprehensive about rejoining the workforce. But I knew I had to make a change for my family. I had some experience working in hotels, and the program was able to find me a job at the Marriott Grand, which is a very large and busy hotel in downtown St. Louis. I instantly excelled there, and am now earning $12 hourly with the ability to earn more through performance and overtime. I have been working for over 30 days now. My ultimate goal is to be self-sufficient for myself and my family.”

—Dewanna C., St. Louis, MO

Latasha Scott, Washington, D.C.

“I was a young single mother, 22 years of age. I had one 3 1/2 year old son and I was 7 1/2 months pregnant with another child. The father of my sons was abusing me, so I moved back home to D.C. to better myself. I had been receiving SNAP for years. I enrolled in a work program that offered SNAP recipients opportunities to do welfare to work. I was also able to enroll in classes for Medical Assistants, Early Childhood Certifications and Medical Office Assistant. I chose Early Childhood because I worked with children prior to coming back home to D.C. I knew I always wanted to be a teacher. I completed my course, earned my CDA Certification and, because of the program, started working with children. I have been working in this capacity from 2012 through today. I feel that working is better than being on SNAP because you feel a sense of self-pride when you are able to make your own money. Your children don’t have to be dependent only on the system. It is a limited existence to be on SNAP. Use SNAP as a stepping stone, but don’t get stuck!”

—Latasha Scott, D.C.

Milton Jones, Washington, D.C.

“I was out of work for a while, and I was constantly applying and interviewing. After continuously doing the same things over and over, I was prepared to just give up, but I knew ultimately that it would not be in my best interest. Fortunately, I was able to find a work program because I was receiving SNAP. Upon entering the program, I was given more hope that I would be able to have success. I began interviewing with more companies and was very quickly sent on an interview with Conrad Hotel. I was offered an opportunity to work for them. It is definitely a wonderful job and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity. I am happy that I have begun my path to success and there is only one way from here, to the top. Overall, never give up, use the resources that are available, and remain positive.”

—Milton Jones, Washington D.C.

Eric Stinson, Washington, D.C.

“I was laid off my last full-time job in 2017 and have had a very challenging time getting back into the workforce. All I can say is I never gave up sending emails, responding to job requests, and searching for every opportunity that came remotely close to what I wanted to do for work. I had several interviews that did not work out but I kept fighting. Because of the program, I was placed into a job. My job is going very well. i am able to get back to the type of work (Business Development/Sales) that I had previously done for 20 years. I’m still not where I would like to be as far as total independence, but I’m well on my way. Working gives me a sense of worth. I feel that If I work I will have a semblance of self-sufficiency and satisfaction. I was fortunate to grow up in an environment that fosters hard work and self-sufficiency and I am thankful to have found this program. For anyone that is in my former unemployed situation, do not give up the fight! For all this I’m thankful and grateful.”

—Eric Stinson, Washington, D.C.

Angela Norman, Washington, D.C.

“When I first arrived, I was depressed and overwhelmed. It was like I was stuck in quicksand, and the more I fought, the more I sunk deeper into an inescapable darkness. I knew that I couldn’t maintain my life like this. My case worker and I spent a lot of time developing short-term and long-term goals for myself. I really had to buckle down and understand the roads that led me to where I was, what I wanted for my future, and the best way to protect it and make it grow. That process sounds easy, but when you’ve spent years losing yourself in what others wanted of you and for you, you tend to lose sight of who you are. Saying you want to make money is fine. But you have to ask yourself, “Why is it I don’t have that money right now?” The best thing you can do is be honest with yourself. From there, the real work begins. The road blocks will come. Ask for help. The doubt will come. Ask for help. You will be discouraged. Ask for help. Working together, as is the motto for anything in life, makes the progression easier to manage. I started off homeless, with no job, former bills piling up, negative bank account...you name it. I accepted help from the SNAP E&T Program and was honest with them about where I was and where I wanted to be. It took a little time, faith, and determination, but today I am in school with a 3.4 GPA, moving into my own apartment, and working full-time with benefits. I still have a little more to cross off my short-term goal list, but compared to where I came from? All I can do is thank God and the help I received from the program.

—Angela Norman, D.C.