MariAt 19 years old, Mari was living in a cramped basement with two kids. She desperately needed a way to pay rent, but she needed so much more than that. She needed to graduate from high school. She needed a steady job. She needed opportunity. And that’s when Mari found what she needed—the Employment Opportunity Center at Outreach.

“When I heard how the program worked, I was all in,” says Mari. “I needed help finding a job, but the support was beyond what I even expected. I love my case managers. We’re kind of like a family.” Mari says they’re always there for her, providing her mentoring and motivation.

“The Employment Opportunity Program truly wrapped around Mari and provided holistic care,” says Alex Hoerr, Job Coach/Case Manager. “The program provided a tutor to help Mari study for her GED, internships at Discoveries Resale Shop and Jubilee Furniture so she could gain employment experience, and transportation to her job and her children’s daycare.” In addition, Mari attended counseling sessions at Wheaton Youth Outreach to work through her background.

After reaching her training goals and impressing the resale stores with her professionalism and skills, Mari moved on to an internship at KeHe Distributors in Naperville, where she works in the Human Resources department and with the mail room staff team. Her supervisors have praised her work ethic and extended her internship. She recently received her GED, and KeHe held a graduation celebration to honor her success!

Alex has been blown away by the success Mari has achieved in a short amount of time. “She’s done everything on her own—it takes a lot of organization, persistence and assertiveness to get the resources you need when you’re in Mari’s situation. It’s been neat to see her effort pay off.”

“It’s definitely been a struggle,” Mari agrees. “There were times I wanted to give up, but Alex would tell me to keep pushing. Now, I have my driver’s license, my GED, a job and my own apartment. I can’t believe I accomplished all of these goals! But I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Outreach.”