Making Moves: Charles’ Story
Even though it takes LIFT Member Charles Guider a bus and two trains to get to the LIFT-Chicago Uptown office from his home on the southwest side of Chicago, he still comes in each week to meet with an Advocate to work on finding employment. It’s an hour and a half commute, but Charles is one of many LIFT members who made the move when LIFT-Chicago merged their Pilsen and Uptown offices. If you asked Charles why he chooses to commute across the city each week to continue working with LIFT, he’ll tell you a small smile, “It’s rewarding.”
Born and raised on the west side of Chicago, Charles has since raised ten children and 12 grandchildren in the same neighborhood. Charles started his own family at a young age, and after completing his GED, he focused on caring for his family. In over his 50 years of work experience, Charles has held a variety of jobs, including working as a machinist, an assembler, an apprentice mold maker and an assistant foreman with companies such as US Steel, Motorola Corporation, and Mayfair Diamo.
When Charles came to LIFT nearly two years ago, he was retired but hoping to get back into the workforce. Using his plethora of experience, Charles met with a LIFT Advocate to update his resume and cover letters. Charles quickly started applying for various job training programs and employment opportunities. After a couple of months of hard work, he enrolled in his first job training program and soon after, secured a part-time job. Currently, Charles is working on securing full-time employment. LIFT, he says, makes all the difference in this process: “Instead of being out there by yourself, you have someone there with you. It’s hard going at it by yourself. LIFT had a lot of suggestions, like how to do interviews. It helped me in a lot of ways. I feel more confident when I [go to] to interviews now.”
Not only does Charles utilize LIFT’s support for his job search, but he also enrolled in LIFT’s new Comcast Digital Literacy classes. Though, he admitted that coming into the classes, he “had little or no knowledge of computers or typing,” his eagerness to learn was shown through his actions. In each of his meetings, he makes sure to take detailed notes and ask questions about the different tools Advocates use on the computer, including how to open new internet browsers and the process of copy and paste. He hopes that these skills will enhance his self-sufficiency and be able to apply online to jobs on his own in the future.
Charles’ determination and tenacity to accomplish his goals is incredible. Week after week, Charles comes into LIFT with a list of job applications to complete and companies to research. LIFT-Chicago Member Service Fellow, Kevin Mueller loves working with him for this reason: “He comes in with a plan knowing exactly where he wants to apply. I essentially just fill in the gaps that he needs. I think the thing with Charles [is that] long term success is inevitable because he just puts in so much work into whatever he does and is really driven.”
Looking for a job “was kind of depressing” before coming to LIFT, Charles says. However, working side by side with LIFT, “I feel I have a better chance of getting a job.” Charles hopes that within five years he will find himself the proud owner of a janitorial company with retirement on the horizon. Until then, Charles plans on coming into LIFT each week and working on his job search.
Thankfully, all the hard work is paying off. With that same small smile, Charles’s shares his good news: “I have a prospect for a job. I find out next week if I get a janitorial position.”
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