Employment Successes: Laurie Van Allen

When we reflect on the first year and a half of the Employment Immersion program we are filled with a sense of pride knowing we have been involved in changing the lives of the people we serve in a most remarkable way. We have a successful placement rate of 35% of the participants (a rate significantly higher than that of employment programs for sighted jobseekers), and even more exciting is the fact that their collective salaries total over $600,000. In very real terms, we have helped change futures and lives. Meet one of our successes in 2012:

Meet Laurie Van Allen. At 50 years of age, Laurie was convinced that no one would hire her – not just because of her age, but because of her blindness. And because she had never held a job (with the exception of babysitting years ago).

She was comfortable volunteering for Community Violence Solutions, because as a volunteer she didn’t have to job search. “I used to hate doing cover letters,” Laurie said. But LightHouse’s Employment Immersion Program, and its leader, Kate Williams, reversed Laurie’s attitude. “I’ll be honest: I’d be lost without Kate,” she said. Her perseverance has paid dividends: just last week Laurie secured a job as a Living Skills Instructor for the Moving On Project in Berkeley. It is Laurie’s first job ever, and she has another interview for a part-time job in a peer mentorship/coaching program. Congrats, Laurie!

Laurie was a participant in the LightHouse’s initial Employment Immersion session in March 2011. Since then Kate Williams has worked with Laurie continuously, providing guidance, raising her skills and offering support. Kate said, “After polishing her ‘cold call’ script, Laurie burned up the phone lines with her calls to her targeted list of companies. She has written letters of introduction, followed up, applied to every job that fit her needs, volunteered and networked incessantly. Even though she became discouraged from time to time, she never backed down. Never!”

Do you want to jumpstart your career like Laurie did? Are you looking for a job and need that extra little push to get that interview or spiffy up your resume. Classes start January 8th at the LightHouse’s Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley. Call Kate Williams at 415-694-7324 or email her at kwilliams@lighthouse-sf.org.