After working in manufacturing for three years without a salary increase, Sara Ndayisaba, a foreign-born citizen and mom of four children, knew she needed a change. “I didn’t know where to start. I needed something that would support us financially, help us buy a home, and fit in with our schedule,” Sara explained.
Sara learned about Pennsylvania Women Work through a friend. After getting connected to Program Manager, Kristen Tsapis, Sara began her participation in the RISE program, a service that helps refugees and immigrants navigate the American workforce and achieve financial stability.
“I wanted to apply for UPMC’s Environmental Services training program, but when I started the application on my own, I couldn’t finish it,” Sara explained. “Kristen sat down with me for almost three hours and walked me through it. It was so helpful.”
A few short weeks later, Sara was accepted into the program. While the program was paid, Sara decided to continue working her full-time manufacturing job throughout the training. “I was working so hard. I went from the training, straight to work. At the end of the program, I felt so happy,” Sara said. “The training ended on a Friday, and I began my new job at Mercy Hospital on Monday.”
Sara started her new job in February 2020, and after a year, she and her husband had enough money to buy a house for their family. “I continued to be in touch with Kristen, and when we were moving and didn’t yet have Internet set up, Kristen even helped me get my kids registered for school,” Sara said.
With plans to build her own career as her children get older, Sara continues to spread the word about the RISE program to her friends, family and neighbors. “I send everyone to PA Women Work who needs help. Kristen is a good person – she is such a helper,” Sara insisted. “I owe PA Women Work so much for helping me get to where I am today.”
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