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Chonte Bridges was desperate to find work. The 21-year-old former gang member had not worked since last December, when she was let go from her cashier’s job at a local eatery.
One day, she dropped into New Community’s Family Resource Success Center in Newark after seeing a sign in the window that read, “Job Search.”
“I came in with no resume and just wanted to find a job to help better myself,” said Bridges, who is engaged and determined to turn her life around.
Bridges said she couldn’t have felt more welcome at the Resource Center. Stormy Williams, 30, a Drake College of Business student volunteering at the center as an intern, was one of the workers who helped Bridges build her resume.
“We really took her skills and made them into a beautiful resume,” Williams explained, noting her co-workers, Iris Johnson and Malikah Grangy, also assisted in the process.
It turns out Bridges had volunteered at an after-school program, in addition to the customer service experience she gained working at a Dunkin Donuts/Baskin-Robbins establishment.
Bridges faithfully came to the center every day to search the computer for jobs, believing by then that she did have something to offer a potential employer.
“I never had this much support in my life,” she said. “The staff never gave up on me. What I was before is nothing compared to what I am now.”
Bridges was recently hired as a cashier/stock clerk at Sears in Livingston, NJ as a result of a job posting she replied to while conducting her daily job searches at the center.
“This is what the Resource Center is all about,” said Joanne Williams-Swiney, director of the one-stop center that handles issues ranging from homelessness to substance abuse. “We help people realize their full potential in life, no matter what obstacles they may be facing.”