Christina’s Story:  

Christina is a single mother of one child, 2 years of age.  A graduate of the Single Moms at Work Program, she came to uu as a non-violent ex-offender with a past heavy with regret as a former young female gang member and on public assistance.  With a strong desire to change, after losing her job at a major supermarket chain and facing chronic unemployment due to her offense, Christina was hired as a Customer Service Associate at the urban stores and warehouse through uu’s partnership with Alameda County Social Services CalWorks Department.  Christina is currently learning all three enterprises, obtaining critical retail and inventory skills and polishing her soft skills. When asked how she liked working at the stores at the end of her shift one evening, Christina stated, “I love it here.  This is the first time I’ve been around positive women.  I don’t have any positive women around me.  I watch the women here all of the time because I want to learn how to be like them.” Christina is preparing to re-enroll in college to complete her Criminal Justice degree.

Kanesia’s Story

Kanesia is a single mother of one child, age 3. A graduate of the Single Moms at Work Program, she came to uu homeless, living in a transitional home and on public assistance. With a strong desire to get back on her feet after leaving her first year of college and facing domestic violence, Kanesia was hired as a Customer Service Associate at the urban stores and warehouse through uu’s partnership with Alameda County Social Services CalWorks Department.  Kanesia learned all three enterprises, obtaining critical retail skills and developing her self-esteem.  When asked at her 90 day evaluation, “What key lessons are you learning?, Kanesia stated, “I’m learning how not to criticize myself as much as I did in the past.”  As a result of her participation in SMAW, Kanesia is currently living in her own apartment and works full-time with benefits, at a local manufacturing company.

Danita’s Story

Danita is an African-American single mother of one child, age 7. She came to uu homeless and was placed at the urban stores through a referral from First Place for Youth. Her internship helped her gain new skills and self-esteem. After completing her internship, Danita was hired as a Customer Service Associate in 2013. In 2014, and promoted to Customer Service Associate II. Thanks to her participation in Single Moms at Work, Danita is completely off of welfare, her child is in daycare and they are both in housing. “I’ve changed. I’m not the same person. I’m more confident. I now know what steps I need to take to have a better life and career.”

Danita, age 21, 2015, program graduate Oakland resident

Pack’s Story

Pack speaks with enthusiasm and candor about how Single Parents at Work has “given [him] a different consciousness of the bigger picture.” After serving jail time for a felony conviction, he was ready to pursue a new path that will lead him toward his dream of business management. Facing the roadblock of getting hired with his past conviction, he was grateful to begin working at urban furniture. Not only did he get a job that enabled him to save money to afford an apartment in a safe neighborhood for him and his four year-old daughter, he was also able to increase his assertiveness, to learn time-management and goal setting, to gain job skills and most importantly, the chance to feel connected to a group and to a mission. “Single Parents at Work is a training program for life as a whole”.

Pack, 2011, program graduate