When Emily Jacobs enrolled in Westside Works for training in Microsoft Office Operations, she had no idea she would be back less than a year later – in a teaching capacity. But that’s exactly what she’s doing today, as an intern for New Hope Enterprises, the Westside Works partner that manages the Office Operations and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) programs.
Getting to that point has been a transformative process for Emily, a Missouri native who moved to Atlanta two years ago. She came to the program with some computer skills – and “an attitude that stinked,” according to New Hope instructor Tracy Coram.
“Emily came from a fast lifestyle where, if she would have continued on, she may have been dead, but she decided she had had enough,” Coram says. “She started to listen and say, ‘I hear you. I don’t necessarily like it and I don’t necessarily like you either, but I’m going to try.’ As a result, we chose her to come in and be an intern, and she has been working hard and doing very well.”
“Tracy only made me cry about three times,” says Emily, smiling at the memory. “If you have the mindset that you’re going to come in here and do what you want, when you want to, you’re not going to last very long. But when it seemed like we were being judged so harshly, [the instructors] were really saying, ‘We want you to be better, we want to see you succeed.’”
When she was offered the internship, she says, “At first I couldn’t believe they thought I could teach [the Microsoft Office] class. But it was a tremendous blessing. I feel like I’m doing a lot of good here, that I’m giving back to the community, meeting a lot of great people, serving people. I feel like I’m doing the work of the Lord and that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
New Hope seeks to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged individuals and families of greater Atlanta through its various programs. It’s an ideal fit for Westside Works, and successes such as Emily’s are what New Hope staffers have in mind when they push their students so hard.
“My goal is to help the participants get to a better place,” Coram says. “Everybody who comes through here, in my opinion, already has gifts, but for whatever reason they’re at a place in their lives where something is hindering them from being the best they can be. Sometimes it’s hard work getting them to believe that I care. I do that by sharing my story with them and letting them know I am human, and that what they see today is from a lot of mistakes and hardships in my own life, so we’re in this together.”
Adds Geraldine Rodgers, New Hope’s Administrative Support Manager: “This is a second chance for many participants, where they get that hand to start over. In many instances, life has just happened and this gives them some time for self evaluation and to go ahead and take the tools they have, where it’s self esteem or whatever qualities were buried due to circumstances, and move forward. After the self confidence is rebuilt, then the training takes place. Microsoft Office and CNA have proven to be avenues that assist in getting a lot of people to the next level.”
Adopted from an original story by Allen Allnoch. Photo: Cathi Athaide. Residents in 30314 and 30318 zip code areas are referred to New Hope Enterprises by Integrity Transformation CDC.