McHenry County Workforce Network
Below are some of our program success stories!
A Second Chance:
McHenry County Workforce Network has developed relationships with various employers that are willing to offer a second chance to individuals who possess a criminal background. Adam Furman, manager from Vo-Tech Manufacturing in Crystal Lake has opened his doors to offer McHenry County Workforce customers an opportunity though part-time work experiences and on-the-job trainings. Charles, is a customer enrolled in the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, where McHenry County Workforce Network receives yearly funding to make opportunities like this happen.
Lucas H. (60098)
Born and raised in McHenry County, Lucas was raised by his parents, and is the middle child of three boys. Growing up, he was actively involved in Boy Scouts of America and he played soccer throughout his high school years. After receiving his High School Diploma, Lucas, pursuing a career in Criminal Justice, attended classes at McHenry County College for two years. In between his education, he had a variety of jobs including working for landscaping companies, Harley Davidson and Quest Films where he obtained his CDL Class C.
In 2009, Lucas was charged with his first felony for theft. Next followed a downhill spiral of multiple convictions including forgery, burglary and drug possession charges. Lucas relates this series of unfortunate events to his substance abuse, which was something he was familiar with due to growing up with an alcoholic. Lucas was originally going to be sentenced to 12 years after his first residential burglary conviction, but considered himself blessed to be sent to Du Quoin Impact Incarceration Boot Camp for four months, which is a short-term paramilitary rehab program. Lucas also did multiple stays in county jails for his other charges, including serving seven months for his possession charge. In addition to his seven months served in county, Lucas was ordered to serve three months in Vandalia Correctional Center. Lucas noted on his experience in state prison saying, “it was the worst and most terrifying moment in my life”.
After being released, Lucas struggled to find employment due to his past convictions and substance abuse. He viewed himself as being worth nothing but his past convictions. It was not until Lucas was working with his sponsor for AA, that he had an eye-opening experience. His sponsor mentioned that Lucas is one of the most selfish people he has ever worked with. Lucas did not consider himself selfish, but noticed it was driven by his substance abuse. He wanted to change and become a more selfless person.
Lucas then was referred to McHenry County Workforce’s Re-Entry Program. After successfully completing the program, Lucas has seen a change in himself with the help of the staff at Workforce. He feels blessed to be a part of the Workforce Network Program and given the opportunity to overcome his barriers to employment.
Lucas states that the Workforce led him to changing his ways, by teaching him how to overcome his barriers and focus on his recovery first.
“The best decision I made for myself was recognizing that as much as I wanted to start work and make money, I could not keep a job or better myself if I did not first work on myself in regards to my substance abuse.”
Lucas is now currently working full time for a Woodstock company and has plans to attend college for a certificate in Industrial Maintenance and Robotics. He also hopes to become a sponsor one day as well.
John M. (60071)
John had worked as a Project Manager Lead. He lacked the industry-recognized credentials needed to be more competitive in the job market. John wanted to pursue training to enhance his skills and obtain those credentials and enrolled in a three-week intensive training program through MicroTrain successfully completing the PMP/CAPM, Microsoft Project 2013 Levels 1 and 2, and ITIL 2011 Foundation courses and obtaining ITIL Certification. Within two months of completing his training, John was hired for a full-time, 12-month contract job as an Infrastructure Project Manager.
Tamara S. (60013)
Tamara had previously worked as a Sales Executive, but had no degree or other credential. She decided to pursue training for Business Management Principles Certificate through the McHenry County College Fast Track Program. Tamara successfully completed her training program and secured full-time employment working as a Sales & Product Trainer.
Cory B. (60098)
Cory was a homeless veteran who was collecting food stamps, and living at a transitional shelter when he first started working with the McHenry County Workforce WIOA program. Cory is a former addict and after he got sober, he was driven to pursue truck driving as a Career path. At his first meeting with his career planner, he was friendly, talkative, and eager to get started with training to obtain his CDL with hazmat endorsement. Cory already had his permit before that first meeting, and turned in his training application, pre-hire letters, and driving record soon after. Cory attended Eagle Training Services and after he earned his CDL with Hazmat endorsement, he was hired with a Trucking company in Kankakee where he has great benefits. Cory runs regional routes and said he loves being a truck driver so much, he wishes he would have gotten sober 10 years ago so he could have pursued it sooner.
Cory drives for 70-hour stretches of time and then parks for 34 hours. He considers his 2018 truck his home because it has a bed and a flat screen TV which is all he needs. On a recent phone call, Cory described his latest travel route—crossing the Stateline into Kentucky on his way to Tennessee and, within the next day or so, arriving in Maryland. Speaking about his WIOA-funded truck driving training, Cory said that it has "changed his whole life.” He is now reunited with his family, and can expect a steady income from driving.
Michael L. (60098)
Michael was referred by his probation office to attend the STEP Forward reentry work readiness workshops at McHenry County Workforce. His interest was in the food industry and had some experience as a server. Michael has a felony background and had struggled getting back to work. In addition he had developed some health problems that limited his working ability. He had received a Certificate Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago but that did not produce any job offers.
Michael had not worked since 2006. He became a full time caretaker for his two aging parents at home.
At the conclusion of the reentry workshop a career plan was developed. It was assessed that he was able to get away from the caretaker duties at home to be able to work part time. He stated that it would be healthy for him to have a break from being at home 24/7. He would also have the benefit of a social connection in addition to income. It was further determined that he would like to do something with his culinary training and interest. He stated that a part time work would be a good step toward using skills and being current on his resume.
Michael was placed in a WIOA work experience at a local retreat center as a kitchen intern. The part time temporary work experience allowed the retreat center to give Michael an opportunity to start using some of his skills. The retreat center also provided the work environment that was beneficial and necessary for Michael to maintain a healthy outlook to life. The part time position allowed him to continue as caretaker but feel more connected to the community and others. As the work experience continued he became more confident about himself. As a volunteer at the local food shelter and animal shelter Michael is a person that enjoys helping and serving. The retreat center came to recognize that he was a great cultural fit and offer him a permanent position in the kitchen and gave him a wage increase. The wage meets his financial needs and the job meets his needs as a person.
Elizabeth C. (60014)
Customer came to WIOA collecting food stamps and reporting that she was homeless, utilizing the PADS services in the area. Customer met with her Career Planner as well as Business Services on her resume, career planning, and job search referrals. Customer found employment in retail and is working as a Stock Person. While participating in WIOA she was chosen to receive affordable housing and is no longer homeless.
Young Adult Success Stories
Kristina K. (60051)
Kristina came to the Workforce Network Young Adult Internship Program in hopes of an internship. Kristina faced multiple barriers that were in her way of successfully obtaining a position in anything that involved working one-on-one with other individuals.
With this in mind, the Young Adult Internship Program put Kristina in a small office setting at a partner worksite. Kristina was assigned to scan documents and input them into a data base. Throughout her internship, Kristina was entrusted to complete special projects. She was proven to be a trusted, reliable and hardworking intern. In addition to her internship Kristina attended all of our Work Readiness classes, which set her up for a successful career future. While attending our classes, Kristina always offered to help others alongside the staff.
When Kristina’s internship was coming to an end, she was seen as an asset to the company and they encouraged her to apply for an open customer service position. Kristina brought the job description into the Young Adult Internship Office and worked with Staff to compile a cover letter and updated resume.
For Kristina this open position was not just a job, but an opportunity for a career. She received an interview and was offered the position. The Workforce Network Staff were able to turn her position into an OJT for four months.
She stayed with the company as a full-time Customer Service Representative for about one year. Kristina is now working for a local bakery and is focusing her spare time writing a novel.
Tianna M. (60033)
Tianna is a single mother that came unemployed to McHenry County Workforce for assistance. Tianna was working on getting her GED and job searching. She had some customer service experience with fast food and retail. Her goal was to get into business management. An assessments of Tianna’s skills and characteristics showed her to be personable, humorous yet assertive. In spite of not having her GED she presented herself to be intelligent and full of potential. In her past work experience Tianna had developed transferable skills for working in a business environment. The job search plan focused on a distal career goal of business management. Her academic goal was to complete her GED and then start Administrative Office management courses at the community College.
The proximal goal was to return to work with a position in an office environment. Tianna was paced in a WIOA work experience as an Administrative Assistant intern in the McHenry County Administration office to work on a tax rebate project. She was given the responsibility of processing applications for county residents to receive property tax rebates which required multidimensional organization and analysis skills. The complex project was estimated to last 3 months. Because of her demonstrated interpersonal and communicative skills it was requested that she extend her internship to take on a customer service role in answering resident’s questions regarding the rebates.
As the internship began to come to an end a position opening in the office became available. As part of the internship, Tianna was required to complete an informational interview to meet the academic and occupational education component of the work experience. Instead of completing one interview she took advantage of the opportunity to interview four employees in different positions within the office. She became more familiar with the duties of other staff and they got to know her better. She applied for the position and when all the interviews were completed she was offered the full time position of Administrative Specialist ll with McHenry County Administration.
Desiree V. (60098)
Desiree is a 22 year old high school drop out with 5 children under the age of 18 with a 6th on the way. She was basic skills deficient but now has her GED. She was able to obtain her GED in only four months. Desiree completed her Career Plan for Medical Assisting and decided on going through First Institute to earn her certification. She began her MA classes with First Institute on October 28th. Once she completes her certification she hopes to work as a Medical Assistant within McHenry County.
Successful Business Partnerships
Jessup Manufacturing of McHenry has been in McHenry County for 60 years. They have become a global manufacturer producing new and specialized products. Jessup has demonstrated to be a company that is employee centered. In addition to expanding their market and products, growing with technology and adding new machinery, they have invested in training programs that has allowed them to hire and train local job seekers for the needed skills. Jessup was named in 2016 as a Business Champion in McHenry County
Jessup has hired new employees through the On the Job Training program to provide the skills needed to employ Workforce Network job seekers These new hires were able to learn as they earn in these funded trainings. Jessup has also provided incumbent worker training to their own employees that had a need for new skills in order to continue in their positions with the company. On separate occasions Jessup had purchased automated equipment to replace the manual operations. McHenry County Workforce funded the training required by the existing employees to learn how to operate the computerized machinery. Jessup had also offered job shadow opportunities to Workforce Network job seekers that were in the process to deciding a career and training direction.
Collectively Jessup’s commitment to training has helped raise the skill level of our McHenry County workforce.
MAC Automation is a family owned business started 30 years ago. In the past, the company has collaborated with McHenry County Workforce Network in placing and assisting job seekers. Because of this, MAC was named in 2014 as a Business Champion in McHenry County.
In the past, MAC has hired and trained new employees in the Workforce Network On the Job Training program. The company has also provided internship opportunities in the Work Experience program for Workforce Network customers completing their training. They have hired 2 interns into positions that had to be created for the hire. The project manager that is currently overseeing this ERP implementation was one of the interns that was hired. She completed her PMP through WIA training, placed in the internship and the company created an IT Project manager position for her a year ago to continue in full time employment. The other intern that they hired was a 2015 IWP nominee for Individual Achievement. He is an IT and electrical engineer technician and continues to be employed at MAC.
In addition MAC has provided informational interview opportunities for our job seekers looking to make career changes into manufacturing. They have also offered job shadow opportunities to Workforce Network customers.
MAC Automation has shown that they value training in the workforce, and paid forward in our collaborative efforts to train and place job seekers. The company will begin an 8-month Incumbent Worker Training starting in February 2016. The training will provide 47 employees in 19 different occupations the skills needed to operate Enterprise Resource Planning System software for their occupation.
The McHenry County Workforce Network, is an equal opportunity employer/program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. To request accommodations, please contact our Equal Opportunity Officer Peggy Sarbaugh-McNally at [email protected] or (815) 334-2776. All voice telephone numbers may be reached by persons using TTY/TDD equipment by calling TTY (800) 526-0844 or 711