Meet Jennifer: building a successful life

“I never imagined my life could be this great,” she says.

Her workspace might be a little different than yours. There’s no desk, no computer, no cubicle.

She does have some pretty incredible views of the St. Croix River, however. She’s currently working on the new bridge in Stillwater.

Thanks to our ReEntry and Construction Training programs, she’s become one of only five women who are piledrivers in Minnesota.

Jennifer at work on the new St. Croix Bridge

There was a time, however, when the biggest barrier to success she faced was herself. “I was very self-destructive for a little while, which got me into some trouble,” she recalls. Her mistakes resulted in several years of incarceration.

After leaving prison she found our ReEntry program, where she met ReEntry Counselor David Mirambeaux. “Amazing man,” she says. “Very good at his job.”

But when David suggested she try the Construction Training program, she was skeptical. “I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t do construction,’” she remembers. “But it turned out to be the best thing ever.”

The people in the programs made the difference for her. “Every single person I met was friendly. They didn’t treat me like a criminal, or like a girl who doesn’t know how to do this stuff. It was the positive support I needed, that I didn’t have anywhere else in my life. It helped give me the extra drive to keep going and to believe that I could do it.”

Jennifer on the cover of Apprenticeship Works

Her story got the attention of the Minnesota Department of Labor, who put her on the cover of their print publication “Apprenticeship Works.”

“When I found out I was going to be featured, I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I could show people that ‘this is where I came from, but this is what I’m doing now.’”

Jennifer and her daughter Haley

The program not only helped her get the skills she needed to start a new career, our FATHER Project program gave her the training she needed to be a better parent to her 9 year-old daughter.

She’s thankful for the support. “I can take care of my daughter now,” she says. ”It means the world to me.”

Read how our Construction Training program is helping to rebuild St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood.
Learn more about Goodwill-Easter Seals’ job training programs
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