Like many displaced workers, Cindy, along with fellow Foodland co-workers KellyAnn Kostek and Dee Wilson, turned to Lenape Tech’s New Choices program. And that decision has made all the difference in their futures.
A Templeton native and 1976 Lenape Tech Cosmetology graduate, Cindy started a family at a young age before eventually matriculating into the workforce, where she held several different jobs until she landed a full-time position at the Kittanning Foodland in fall 1994. She started as a deli worker and moved up the ranks to assume customer, clerical, and managerial duties. Faced with having to start over again, she needed everything from an updated resume to a renewed sense of purpose. She got it from Lenape Adult Education coordinator Lisa Brochetti and New Choices.
“New Choices showed me that I could do it. It gave me confidence – which was something I did not have at all,” admits Cindy. She says that the support of the group, coupled with what she describes as “little things” like the reflective journal writing exercises, helped instill a renewed sense of self-esteem. Part of Cindy’s previous work experience involved serving as a caregiver to senior populations and members of her own family, roles she maintained on a part-time basis during her tenure at Foodland. Even before the store announced it would close, Cindy had made up her mind to follow her heart by enrolling in a Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) program at Lenape Tech. She recently completed her CNA certifications and is now working in a full-time position as a residential caregiver for Lifesteps in West Kittanning. “This is something that I wanted to do for a long time,” says Cindy, who adds that her long-term goal is to someday work as a nurse in a Veterans Hospital.
For KellyAnn Kostek of Ford City, contemplating life after Foodland was also a frightening proposition initially. “Now, I am thinking, ‘What am I going to do?’ I couldn’t go back to minimum wage,” says Kelly. A 1996 Ford City graduate, she landed the job at Foodland right out of high school and worked there for 18 years in various roles including cashier, customer service, health & beauty consultant, and back office manager.
Faced the possibility of having to leave the area to move in with her brother in Florida, KellyAnn was desperate, but her life experience taught her that she needed to look for a new career rather just another job. She consulted the adult education information section in Lenape Connections, and that’s where she discovered the New Choices program. “I was kind of nervous and scared all at the same time,” she says.
She says that New Choices helped immensely with her interviewing and writing skills. The career exploration component helped her confirm an interest in becoming a pharmacy technician. “I always wondered what it would be like to have that kind of career, but I put it on the backburner, not thinking that it would be something I would need to do, or even could do.”
KellyAnn successfully completed the CNA program at Lenape Tech and has since gone on to take a Pharm Tech certification exam. She now works at Rite Aid Pharmacy.
For Dee Wilson of Kittanning, who began at Foodland in 1988, being unexpectedly cast back into the job market after a quarter century at one company was a daunting challenge. “It is an all new world,” she says. The resume-building component of the program was step one, but moreover, New Choices restored what she describes as her “self worth” by helping her to define and understand her skill-sets and become more comfortable with the interview process. In February, her efforts paid off as Dee landed a full-time position in the budgeting/accounting department of Community Action’s CCIS division.
Lenape Tech’s New Choices program helps people rediscover themselves, so they can reinvent their future. For more information on what it can do for you, please call (724) 763-5916 today!