Angela lost her job of 19 years at Office Max when she was 50 years old. She came into the B.E.S.T. Inc office concerned with her future. She lives in a small community in Putnam County-Hennepin, Illinois. She thought that she would have to travel in order to find employment that paid enough to help support her family. Angela was frightened by the lack of job prospects for someone with her experience and at her pay grade. She was an Office Manager at Office Max and was making $26.00 an hour. Her husband works in the area so moving wasn’t an option.
She searched the area and was able to find the perfect job for her skill set. The job was in a school near her home as an Administrative Secretary. The only problem was that the pay was less than she was earning at Office Max. Under the Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance (RTAA) program, customers, such as Angela, who are part of an eligible work group, are at least 50 years of age at the time of application and have obtained full-time employment may receive up to half of the difference between the customer’s old wage and the wage at the new employer. The RTAA subsidy may be paid up to a maximum of $10,000 or for a two- year period, whichever comes first.
RTAA was the answer to Angela’s dilemma. There was a wage difference of $8.00 an hour. Angela receives subsidy checks through the RTAA program for $4.00 for every hour that she works at her new job. She said that this money has saved the day for her family.
She has worked at the new employer for less than 1 year and has already received a raise. Our hope is that during the two year RTAA period she will be earning close to her wage with her former employer Office Max.
She loves her job and is learning more every day and is thankful that it meets the financial needs of her family.
Bureau County Story by Heather
I have always been interested in the medical field. When I was a young child I started to become really interested in working in the medical field. I dreamed to become a nurse. I was unfortunate to take a different path at a young age which then found myself dropped out of high school for multiple reasons. I was then unexpectedly blessed with children at a young age of 17 years old. I continued to have a strong passion in the medical field. I then obtained my GED and worked as a waitress at a local restaurant. I continued to follow my dreams and obtained my C.N.A. certificate at I.V.C.C. in the fall of 2007. I then worked as a C.N.A. at Perry Memorial Hospital in Princeton. I continued with my dreams and obtained my E.M.T. license in the spring of 2008. I continued to work at Perry Memorial Hospital and volunteered on the Tiskilwa Ambulance Service. I continued to attend I.V.C.C. to complete prerequisites for the nursing program. I continued to work full time and take care of my children as a single mother. I endured obstacles constantly while attending school and working full time, but I did not let that stop me as I continued to follow my dreams. Fast forward time to Summer of 2015 as I was accepted in the nursing program at I.V.C.C. During the first year of the nursing program I continued to work full-time hours, attended school full-time, and continued to raise my children as a single mother. This was a very enduring process and was struggling in every way, financially and emotionally. By the end of the first year of the program, I was on the verge of losing everything I had worked hard for including my home, my car, everything due to the financial struggles even though I continued to work 50-60 hours per week. I then reached out to the BEST program. The program helped in more ways than I could have ever imagined. The program truly saved me and allowed me to finish school.
I have since then successfully completed the nursing program at I.V.C.C. with honors in May of 2017 and have successfully passed the NCLEX in July of 2017. I accepted a registered nurse position at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Spring Valley with a start date of August 7, 2017. I will earn $23.10 per hour and will work 32 hours a week. I will start on day shift during orientation then will transfer to the midnight shift. This all still seems like a dream for me. I am most excited to be working my dream job, something I have been trying to obtain for 9 years. Not only is it exciting to fulfill my dream, but also to be able to provide for my children in a way that
I never thought I would ever be able to do.
I am forever grateful for the BEST program as it has allowed me to continue and fulfill my dreams, as if it was not for this program, I am convinced I could not have finished the program. I cannot say thank you enough, nor explain truly how this program has had such a positive impact on my life. Thank you for the encouragement and financial assistance during this time of my life.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
Icilda came to the adult program 12/2015. She was a single parent of 2 elementary aged children, worked part time at a local retail store to support herself and her children. Icilda had established a goal of becoming a Radiologic Technologist. She had completed all the prerequisites on her own but once she was accepted into the program she was not sure she could financially complete it. BEST Inc. assisted her with training expenses, mileage and emotional support. The Rad Tech program is very stressful, demanding and can cause self-doubt. With hard work, determination and the assistance of BEST Inc. she was able to complete the program and earn her licenses this July. Because she did such an exceptional job at her clinical’s at KSB, she was offered a job there starting out as PRN for 40hrs a week earning 24.45/hr. Icilda is also continuing on her education to become a Computed Tomography.
In October of 2014, Jennifer had the rug pulled out from under her with the announcement that Robertshaw would be closing. Luckily she had been given the opportunity to continue to work while the factory began the arduous process of finishing orders, training new people to perform their job, and relocating equipment. Unfortunately, a corporate decision had been made to move the manufacturing plant for Robertshaw from Hanover Illinois to Matamoros Mexico.
Jennifer lives in Hanover and had worked for Robertshaw/Invensys off and on as an assembly worker for a number of years. Regrettably for Jennifer and all other 112 employees who were working there, there are very few manufacturing facilities in the area. This meant for Jennifer that she was likely going to have to find a new career if she hoped to find a position where she didn’t have the constant worry of her employer closing. At that time, a trade act petition was filed by the local plant for its employees. It was later approved for all of the employees at the Robertshaw plant in Hanover.
Jennifer turned to Highland Community College in Freeport to look at their programs and decided to study the Information Systems-Office Administration Associates of Applied Science program they offered. Jennifer started her program in August of 2015. She found herself to be very successful academically and she impressed her instructors with her dedication. While attending there Jennifer was offered an Office Technology Lab Student Assistant position at Highland during her final year of training. She worked part time in the lab assisting other students with their course assignments and showed them how to use the lab equipment while maintaining a full time course load.
Jennifer graduated in May with a 3.64 grade point average and is currently working with the Business Services Representative in Jo Daviess looking for full time employment utilizing the skills that she has recently gained. Jennifer is eligible for an On the Job Training program which would be a great way for an employer to offset training cost while gaining a dedicated employee who knows how to work. Jennifer’s new skills include MS Word, MS PowerPoint, MS Excel, MS Access, and QuickBooks. She has great attention to detail and is a problem solver.
June was laid off from Airgas USA due to a reduction in their labor force in 2015. She attended a Career Services workshop and was looking for employment. She was working with the BRR to find either a work experience or on-the-job training. She needed to find employment as soon as possible as she had exhausted her unemployment benefits.
A position at the Byron Chamber of Commerce became available as a work experience. She had some office skills but it was in accounts payable/receivable. She was hired as an Administrative Assistant. She successfully completed the work experience in December 2016. The Chamber did not have an opening at the time to hire her as a permanent employee. The BRR referred her to another employer for a possible on-the-job training position using the skills she learned at the Chamber.
June was hired by Dickerson & Nieman Realtors in December 2016 and we entered in to an on-the-job training contract with them. She successfully completed her on-the-job training in May, 2017. She continues to work for Dickerson & Neiman as a front desk receptionist earning $13.00 per hour.
Jennifer enrolled in the Business Employment Skills Team, after being involved in the closure of Office Max in Ottawa, Illinois. She had worked for the company for 3 years as a customer service representative and was making $10.00 per hour.
Upon inquiring into the Business Employment Skills Team, she had a plan to obtain her Nursing Degree from Illinois Valley Community College. She had done some job search and was finding that she would have great difficulty in supporting her children with her current skills. By obtaining her Nursing Degree, Jennifer knew it would give her the financial stability needed to support her 2 children. In the fall of 2015 Jennifer started in the Registered Nursing Program at Illinois Valley Community College. In December of 2015, the company that Jennifer had been employed – Office Max was trade certified and immediately her application was processed. This gave her the financial opportunity to complete her training program. In the spring of 2016 she continued training under the trade program.
While in classes, Jennifer was always in contact and was very hard working. She was an excellent student in a very difficult program while raising 2 children.
In May of 2017, Jennifer graduated with her Associate of Science, Nursing. She obtained Academic Honors with a cumulative GPA of 3.453.
As of July 24th, 2017 - Jennifer has accepted work the OSF, St. James and will be working as a Registered Nurse making 27.91 per hour.
Willie of Albany, Illinois came to the Illinois Worknet Center in Sterling in August of 2016. He had lost his job at Tyson Foods and the only work he could find was part-time, which didn’t pay enough to cover his living expenses. He expressed an interest in getting a CDL so that he could find stable, self-sufficient employment as a truck driver.
Willie was eligible to receive WIOA services as a dislocated worker. BEST, Inc. was able to help him with the course fees and other training-related costs for his training at the 160 Driving Academy in Moline.
Willie successfully completed the truck driver training program and earned his CDL in January of 2017. Shortly thereafter, he was hired by the United States Post Office in Clinton, Iowa as a driver. He said that getting his CDL and finding employment has given him a sense of pride and confidence that had been lacking in his life.