Meet Sylva – Resource Advocate Queen

Her official title is Administrative Assistant, but she’s more than earned her unofficial rank of “Resource Advocate Queen.”

See how Goodwill-Easter Seals-Minnesota helped Sylva transform from someone who was homeless, staying at a domestic violence shelter for women, to become the dynamo that she is today – someone whose story was featured at 2015’s Power of Work celebration.

Walk into St. Paul’s Eastside Financial Center and you’ll start to understand who Sylva is. First she’ll make sure you feel welcome, then she’ll help out with anything you need. Her purpose, she says, is to “help when I can, how I can, where I can.”

She’s the perfect first person for people to encounter. “When people are greeted by her, when they’re in her presence, she creates a space that puts people at ease,” we were told by Eva at Eastside Financial. “People know that they’re going to be taken care of.”

She’s upbeat and enthusiastic. But that energetic personality you see now tends to disguise the struggles she’s gone through – it’s hard to imagine her as anything but positive and action-packed. But in reality, it wasn’t that long ago that she was homeless and running out of both resources and hope.

“When I first met Sylva she was at a woman’s shelter,” says Carmen, one of Sylva’s career counselors from Goodwill-Easter Seals. “She was really depressed. She was down. She was homeless.”

But Carmen also saw the spark within. “”She loves helping people. She had a passion for giving. She didn’t know how much potential she had.”

Goodwill-Easter Seals worked to bring out that potential. They helped Sylva get job training, create a budget and establish some goals. They also helped with her transportation needs and worked on the skills required to impress a prospective employer, including improving her resume and her interviewing skills.

Once the folks at Eastside Financial got to know her, they knew very well what they had in Sylva – so when they had a position open up for an Administrative Assistant, they offered it to her.

Eva explained the rationale. “She’s been such a phenomenal participant in the program – why not get her a job here?”

The Eastside Financial Center helps residents of St. Paul’s east side achieve their financial goals. Part of Sylva’s role is to help people get referrals to resources to help them achieve financial well-being, which is how the “Resource Advocate Queen” title came to be.

Carmen is impressed by the change she’s seen in Sylva. “It’s a total transformation. From a person who was beat up by life, to a person who’s outgoing, who’s giving back. The little bit that Goodwill-Easter Seals gave to her, she has given a ton back to the community.”

Sylva’s proud of how far she’s come. She’s now in her own apartment and has her own car.

She’s also become a big fan of Goodwill-Easter Seals. “If I did not have Goodwill in my life, I would probably still be in a situation that was not healthy for me.”

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