Marie joined the Ground Up team in June 2019, and quickly became our master at the filling machine! She graduated from our program in early 2020, and went on to find full-time employment as an engagement specialist at a women's shelter.
What has your experience with Ground Up been like? How has it helped your confidence?
It’s been an empowering experience. I came in having never worked in a kitchen before. I’m learning new skills, like even washing dishes in an industrial sink, and I’m thriving at it. It’s given me a boost of confidence. I feel as though I can tackle more problems in my personal life because I’m learning skills to tackle the problems that can come up here.
What does it mean to you to have a job and be back in the workforce?
It means a lot. I feel better about myself having a job and I feel like I’m being a productive member of society again. They’ve been so supportive here. They’re giving me the time do group therapy and willing to let me work around my appointments. I feel as though can continue working on the problems that got me being homeless while I’m in a supportive atmosphere.
What is the community at Ground Up like? What does having this community mean to you?
The community is supportive. We ask how each others week has been, you really get to know the other women on more than just a casual level. A person can always use more community. Having the support from the women and being able to support them gives you a warm feeling inside because it’s a two way street. I’m supported and I support others.
Julie and Carolyn are the most supportive employers I’ve ever had in my life, and I am a 50+ year old woman. We have one-on-ones so we can communicate and know what to work on, as well as deal with personal issues that may be affecting the job. I feel like I can freely discuss anything with them. A lot of bosses you don’t tell your personal problems to because it could be detrimental to your job, but here it is encouraged.
What do you like to do for fun?
I like to play video games, specifically role playing ones. I read, I crochet, I do puzzles, I spend time with my friends.
What is your favorite Ground Up nut butter flavor + favorite way to enjoy it?
Snickerdoodle. I just eat it out of the jar! It’s a complete snack in itself. It’s got sweet, it’s got salt, it’s just plain yummy.
What do you hope to do after Ground Up?
I am working with a vocational rehab. I volunteer at Portland Rescue Mission and I really enjoy that. They’re helping me find a part time job where I do something similar, working with people who are either homeless or potentially homeless populations. I work directly with the people there and I enjoy it, it brings me such joy. When you get that smile or thank you because you helped someone it brings me joy and I feel like I did a great thing. It doesn’t feel like work.
April 2020 Update: We are so happy to announce that Marie has happily graduated from our employment training program and moved onto full-time employment. She is an engagement specialist at a women’s homeless shelter. Learn more about her journey to full-time employment:
Can you tell me a little bit about your new job and what you are looking forward to?
I work at a women's homeless shelter. I work the graveyard shift, so I make sure that the women are safe while they are sleeping. I occasionally work a swing shift, which is my favorite. I like interacting with the women; Getting to know them and learning what services they need to get connected with. I use my knowledge from volunteering at Portland Rescue Mission to point them in the right direction to finding services and potential new housing. I am looking forward to helping the women move into permanent housing. By helping them figure out what their next steps are, whether they need a job or need to get connected with a Rent Well class to overcome barriers to housing. I am learning what services are offered close to the shelter. The women are teaching me patience, resilience and perseverance. I am being reminded of what it took for me to get back on my feet and see the same in the women I am serving. I am hoping that I will be an example to the women.
How has Ground Up supported you in getting your new job?
The support I received from Ground Up was pivotal to my success in getting this job. They were constantly telling me that I was doing a great job at Ground Up and how I was a great asset to the team. They were also very encouraging in my job search. Even when I was getting disappointed, they would tell me how I would find the job that was the right place for me and they were correct.
When I got my job, they were so happy with and for me. They also went beyond what is expected of a company that is going to be your former employment. Since my new job started out as being on-call, Ground Up let me continue to work and would have continued to let me work during my whole on-call period. I am fortunate that I have steady shifts at the shelter and it became obvious to me that I needed to leave Ground Up. It was a sad day, my last day at Ground Up. But I was allowed to work the day without my co-workers knowing it was my last day, until the end of the day. So, it was a happy day. I was able to soak up the images that I treasure, of my co-workers, without the memories being filled with sadness. At the end of the day, there was a little goodbye party and my co-workers were told and they were able to sign a going away card, which I treasure. I truly miss working with the great women at Ground Up. Julie and Carolyn were and still are inspirational and supportive. I still do one-on-one check-ins with Kes, the production manager.