Overcoming the Odds (2011)

Uploaded by JVSlosangeles on 20.05.2011


MAN: More than four and a half million people
were looking for work last month.
We still have a great deal of work to do
to repair the economy
and get the American people back to work.
MAN: 652,000 people
gave up on their job searches last month
and left the labor force.
The house budget committee began its markup
to slash nearly $6 trillion in spending.
$14.3 trillion-- that's the debt.
A massive cut of services for the disabled.
These are painful cuts. It hits vulnerable people.
WOMAN: For over 80 years, through good times and bad,
JVS Los Angeles has provided hope and opportunity
to job seekers throughout our community.
This year, we honor Jose, Elizabeth, and Steven
each striving for independence and a better life.
MALE INTERPRETER: I was born deaf in El Salvador.
It was really difficult communicating.
Everybody had to be creative, gesturing,
but it was really frustrating for me.
I had very limited language, and it was really hard.
They couldn't find a deaf school in El Salvador.
They told me we were going to move to California,
and I said, "Do they have other deaf people there?"
I started learning sign language.
My vision was good,
but then it hit when I was about 13.
It changed.
I didn't even notice that I couldn't see.
I couldn't see the ball around me.
I couldn't see the ball pass me.
Things would hit me,
like, I was walking, and there was a pole,
and I hit the pole,
and I asked the doctor, "What's wrong,"
and he explained that I had Usher's Syndrome.
I asked my mom, "Why did I get that,"
and my mom didn't know. She was crying.
I can't see on the sides.
Everything is tunnel vision.
It's really hard for me to see when it's dark.
I went by myself to New York to the Helen Keller School
to learn braille, how to work on the computer.
I was there for a year, and I got my dog.
My vocational rehab counselor was helping me look for a job,
and she told me, "You know, there's a program called JVS."
JVS provides a comprehensive vocation evaluation.
It's individualized for the person.
It's client-centered,
based on his interests,
his abilities, and his aptitudes.
When I met with Jose,
he came, and he actually was very prepared.
He had a resume.
INTERPRETER: I started working with Rachel,
and she said she was going to help me.
When he came here,
I think he had been unemployed for close to two years,
and I think that starts wearing down on anybody.
INTERPRETER: I want to get a job and live independently.
I had to think positive.
We taught him how to search the internet for jobs,
how to apply for jobs.
INTERPRETER: We did a cover letter that went along with the resume.
RACHEL: Taught him interview techniques.
INTERPRETER: Finally, Rachel called me one day,
and she said, "Hey, you got an interview at JCPenney."
I had to get nice clothes, nice shoes,
get a good haircut. My hair's short.
You know, my dog had to be clean as well.
I was really excited and motivated.
I went with the interpreter.
When I interviewed Jose,
he said all the right things, of what I was looking for.
INTERPRETER: I got the job. I was excited.
When I got home, I was thanking God, I was so happy.
I like working in the stockroom.
I make sure everything is organized.
I follow the names and sizes,
make it nice and neat.
RACHEL: They were open-armed with Jose,
and they treated him with the dignity and the respect
that he deserves.
And actually they treated him like anybody else
who was going in to get the job, and that's how it should be.
INTERPRETER: It's a lot of fun. They're great.
Mingling with everybody.
I was worried. At first, I was nervous,
but I have no problem at all whatsoever.
He understands me right away.
As soon as I explain something, he gets it.
INTERPRETER: I really enjoy the team at JCPenney.
NAOMI: Jose really does motivate other people
because they see what he does,
and they say, "Well, if he can do it,
everybody else can, too."
When you ask him the questions,
"What are your barriers, what are your challenges,"
he will tell you, "I don't have any."
INTERPRETER: You know, even though I have vision problems,
my body isn't hurt. I'm healthy.
JVS is great.
They have helped me a lot.
I have a happy life.
My parents are divorced.
Things just went downhill.
My mom, she was always worried about paying the rent on time.
I guess I never thought I would hit rock bottom with my mom.
I see her struggle and just work so hard for minimum wage.
It's, like, now she's my motivation
to get a better future for both of us.
Right after high school, I actually worked.
I also was going to school part-time.
I got laid off...
When Elizabeth first came to JVS
to do the Summer Youth Employment Program,
she was concerned about her future.
ELIZABETH: I needed a job to help out my mom.
MARGARITA: She had a lot of potential.
She just needed the right guidance.
ELIZABETH: My mother just wanted me to get a full-time job.
Elizabeth was definitely conflicted.
Her and her mom live in a one-bedroom apartment.
So, and they've been struggling financially.
When I first met Elizabeth, I had an instant connection with her.
We were both young women that came from the same background.
I just felt like she's someone I could talk to.
My role was really just to help guide her,
and also setting up tangible goals
for her to make that happen, such as setting up a resume,
doing an interview workshop.
ELIZABETH: Nancy and Margarita
told me to stay in school and work,
and they were just telling me
that it's possible to do both of them.
NANCY: So the Summer Youth Employment Program
was created to give youth in the community
a whole summer of work experience.
After meeting with Elizabeth,
we decided on what would be a good internship site,
and it occurred to me,
"Oh, let me contact the Fulfillment Fund,"
'cause I thought that she would be a really good fit.
She went for her interview, and they loved her.
I started as an intern working in the scholarship department.
I was, like, shocked. I told my friends.
They're, like, "No way, you're gonna work at an office job
"where you're gonna have your own cubicle,
your own computer, your own chair."
When I found out the Fulfillment Fund's mission
was to get kids through college,
it was unbelievable to know
that I was going to work at doing something I love.
VERONICA: I was really excited
to have Elizabeth come onboard.
We actually ended up feeling like she was one of our students.
ELIZABETH: I just learned so much.
After my summer internship was over,
the Fulfillment Fund offered me a paid internship.
NANCY: She demonstrated how professional
and hard-working she can be,
that they even promoted her to a development assistant position.
And we wouldn't want to let her go.
ELIZABETH: I got promoted in January 2011,
and I felt great. I was extremely happy.
I'm in charge of the Donors Data Entry,
and it was only supposed to be a two-month program,
and now I'm here permanently.
Working at the Fulfillment Fund
actually helped me clarify my goals
and what I want to do with my future.
JVS gives you a job, but they also give you hope.
They make you believe in yourself.
So when you think all doors are closed,
they're really not, because they're always there to help.
My outlook has changed on life completely.
I'm attending Santa Monica College.
I actually want to transfer to UCLA.
I'm looking forward to become a counselor.
If you have dedication and will
that you can get out of the neighborhood,
that you can be something more,
and if she can demonstrate that
through her own path,
then she can inspire other youth to do it, too.
I just want youth to know
that there's people that can help them.
Where I grew up was in Los Angeles, Compton.
People were getting shot all the time
around my neighborhood.
My mom wanted to get us away from the gangs and the city life.
We moved to the Antelope Valley.
I started out late in life
by getting my high school diploma at the age of 24.
I just needed something more, so I joined the military.
I received the most discipline that I ever really had in my life.
I spent eight years in the army.
They just "stop lossed" me.
They sent out a Notice of Deployment and said,
"You're going to Kuwait."
Put a big damper on everything
because I'm very close with my kids.
I got on the plane, and they flew me out to Kuwait.
I returned to the States in 2009.
ANCHORWOMAN: It may be the toughest assignment of all
for men and women who are leaving the military
after years of service--
finding a job on the home front.
STEVEN: The economy was bad.
Once you get here, it's all on your own.
The person that I trusted with my finances
didn't do what they promised they would do.
Left me broke.
I should have at least had 40 to $30,000 saved up.
When I came back home,
I went to the bank, and I had no money.
I came back to nothing.
I'm losing my house.
The jobs were very minimal.
I was out of work for a while.
I decided to go into the medical field.
Found out about this school called CTI.
PRIMAVERA: Steven came in
inquiring about our Phlebotomy Program,
and I asked, was he a veteran.
She said, "Well, you need to check out this program
called Veterans First."
JOHN: As most soldiers,
Steven was depressed, and that's natural.
What we do at Veterans First for veterans
is not just employment,
it's not just training.
It's career and life-counseling as well.
My experience as a U.S. Army combat veteran
allows me to make the connection with other veterans.
STEVEN: The class is expensive.
Saving up money is quite hard when you're on unemployment.
JOHN: Once we got the referral,
we assessed his needs, and we funded his training.
STEVEN: I said, "Really? Are you sure?
Everything?" Everything.
He was very enthusiastic.
The hands-on training in class was fantastic.
As a kid, I always liked biology.
The teacher said, "You know, some of you guys
can actually become lab technicians."
I was, like, "Well, that's where I wanna go."
In order for Steven to complete
his State Certification in Phlebotomy,
he has to also complete 40 hours with a professional laboratory.
STEVEN: My internship here is one of the best.
He learns how to deal with patients,
how to put them at ease.
STEVEN: I'm learning a lot from Michelle and the rest of the crew.
MICHELLE: The patient will always come back and say,
"Wow, he was really good"
or "Wow, you should keep him."
STEVEN: When I was younger, my dad actually asked me
what did I want to be in life.
And I told him I wanted to be a scientist.
So for my birthday,
he actually brought me over a microscope.
I messed around with that little scope
for a long time.
I'm gonna go back to school,
get all my prerequisites,
and then the lab technician course.
As a lab tech, hopefully I'll be making decent money.
My kids will be living with me once again.
From there, the sky's the limit.
I think Steven is the perfect role model for other veterans.
He embodies the difficulties that veterans have
transitioning from military to civilian.
It takes a lot of courage in order to step up to that plate
and tackle that challenge.
I've already recommended JVS' Veterans First
to several of my soldiers in my unit.
They take care of their soldiers.
JOHN: Steven is a completely different person.
He's shining.
This work cannot be done by government alone.
Businesses and organizations across America
have already responded to this call,
and we'll make sure that businesses
know just how lucky they'd be
to have these talented spouses and veterans
on their team.
I think it's very much important to keep these programs going
like the Summer Youth Program,
and in order to keep that alive, we need donors to keep helping us.
I think JVS is a great resource for employers to use.
These are tough times, but programs like this
are a way to mitigate it, give people skills, create jobs.
This kind of program... changes lives.