Once homeless and dependent on welfare, and a single parent of two adolescent children, Blaine now works a full time schedule as a maintenance worker for Aloha Oe Dirt, a small family-run business, and is the resident manager for his apartment building in Salt Lake. Blaine is proud of his accomplishments, having successfully transitioned off of public assistance and becoming self-sufficient. Blaine shares his experience in hopes to help others who are faced with similar struggles.
For years, Blaine relied on the public assistance system for housing, medical insurance and food stamps. But when public assistance benefits ran out, he and his children lost their housing. Blaine had been homeless before, but he wasn’t willing to subject his two children to homeless shelters. They lived with friends while Blaine searched for help from various social services organizations. Slowly, Blaine began to regain confidence and hope to provide for his family.
Blaine was reluctant to attend Goodwill’s First To Work Vocational Rehabilitation, but Cantrell Shiroma, Goodwill’s employment counselor, convinced him to meet with her one-on-one. Blaine became motivated to find a job with Cantrell’s support and inspiration.
Cantrell says that Blaine’s attitude is what made the difference. He would follow up with job and housing information and touch base with Cantrell regularly to ensure that he was on track. Blaine was committed to his success.
Cantrell also arranged for Blaine to meet with Goodwill’s SEE Hawaii Work for potential job opportunities. Cantrell got Blaine a bus pass to commute to interviews, and vouchers to Goodwill’s retail stores for interview clothing. With access to these support services, Blaine was successful in finding a job.
Aloha Oe Dirt, a small family-owned maintenance business, saw Blaine as a good addition to their company. The SEE program provided subsidized wages to Aloha Oe Dirt for Blaine’s employment and training, and Aloha Oe Dirt benefitted from an employee who fit their company’s needs.
Two months later, Blaine and his children were able to move into an apartment in Salt Lake, where Blaine was hired as resident manager. This provided a rent reduction that helped to ease the transition from public assistance.
Blaine became eligible for additional Goodwill services and support such as a work clothing allowance, monthly bus pass, and more. Blaine’s advice for people who are in the same situation is: “Be positive and take advantage of what Goodwill has to offer. It is an excellent program.”
Now, with two jobs and a safe home to raise his children, Blaine continues to learn, make the better choices, and make up for lost time. His determination and positive attitude have laid the foundation for a lifetime of possibilities for Blaine and his family.