From Unemployed to Essential Worker
“I worked on a trash truck for 11 years,” Mavin Wise recently told JEVS. “Believe it or not, I loved it.”
But she had to leave her career with the Philadelphia Sanitation Department after the work became too physically demanding.
Next came a bit of a downward spiral. After a stint at a fast food restaurant where she did not make enough to pay the rent, Mavin became homeless and then spent some time in prison.
While incarcerated Mavin worked as a cleaner, and became proud of her work. After her release she was placed in transitional housing and her life began to stabilize. She began looking for work and found her way to PA CareerLink® Suburban Station, operated by JEVS Human Services, where she met employment advisor Alex Rosen.
“My job is to make sure participants are ready for employment, regardless of any barriers that may hinder them, which in Mavin’s case included prison time,” said Alex.
Mavin was able to take advantage of various services offered at CareerLink, including Community Work Experience, which is a program designed to assist participants build their work history through volunteer service.
“My experience at CareerLink was exceptional — it was the first time in a long time where I thought I could succeed.”
At the same time Mavin was looking for a volunteer opportunity, Old Pine Community Center in Society Hill was looking for a volunteer housekeeper. The match was made.
While she volunteered at Old Pine, she continued to meet with Alex weekly and to take advantage of other services at CareerLink, including participating in mock interview sessions and attending hiring events.
“My experience at CareerLink was exceptional,” said Mavin. “It was the first time in a long time where I thought I could succeed.”
After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Old Pine’s food pantry remained open and when Mavin volunteered for that, the staff at Old Pine was impressed. Seeing that Mavin was willing to volunteer even when not required to and under COVID-19 circumstances, they offered her a paying position performing housekeeping and light maintenance duties.
Mavin is now part of a small maintenance team keeping Old Pine open during pandemic.
(Among other community services, Old Pine Community Center runs feeding programs for homeless and seniors, which is an essential service during COVID-19).
“Mavin has become very attached to Old Pine and I know she is very proud of everything they do,” said Alex. “She likes to assist in all aspects of their mission, and she has such confidence I think she can easily work her way up to being a supervisor.
“I also think she is a great example of not getting discouraged and realizing it only takes one opportunity. I believe she will go extraordinarily far.”
For her part, Mavin is extremely happy to working again. “My life is stable now,” she said.
As an essential worker, Mavin feels she has an important role to play during the pandemic. “I’m helping people during a very difficult time,” she said. “I like that.”