From the Far Eastside of Indianapolis, Keysha experienced criticisms and negativity in her teen years that lead to a wayward career path in her early twenties. After working some warehouse jobs and finishing high school, she decided that she wanted to put her mind to obtaining an office job – but a couple different training and certification courses fell through. The troubles that affect so many job seekers caught up to her – bills, childcare, and transportation left her feeling stuck in a place where she could not take the leap forward in her career that she needed.
Keysha initially came to Martindale Brightwood CDC via the IMPACT program – a state program “designed to help recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) achieve economic self-sufficiency.” MBCDC began in 1992 by residents hoping to stabilize their neighborhood and have a positive impact on their community. With services including homeowner repair, foreclosure counseling, small business development assistance, and neighborhood beautification, the organization aims to support residents at their most important place: home. Adding workforce development into its offerings, MBCDC has worked with EmployIndy for years by offering Youth Employment Services (YES), as well as job readiness training and GED referrals.
After initially skilling-up via IMPACT training, staff at MBCDC took notice as Keysha searched for a job. Her technology skills and general ability to stay organized lead Executive Director Josephine Rogers-Smith to simply say “We need to keep her!” MBCDC brought Keysha on for an administrative role, with YES benefits helping ease the burden of the aforementioned bills, childcare, and utilities.
“People like me just need a little push; we need a mentor.”
Keysha found a mentor through YES. She credits Julie Barrett, MBCDC’s YES coordinator with the guidance, reassurance, and positivity she needed to stay on a career path that is improving both herself and her family. “I realized that I just needed to deflect criticism, or people telling me that ‘I can’t,’ and focus on becoming an exception,” Keysha says. She now helps MBCDC handle phone calls, follow-ups, intake applications for homeowner repair programs, and other administrative documentation. It is impressive even for Keysha, who adds shyly “You never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.”
Meanwhile Josephine remains pleased with both Keysha’s performance and her progress. What she seems to appreciate the most is that Keysha is willing to listen and cares about other people – which, paired with some basic technology skills, can go a long way for a community organization. As MBCDC currently works through a strategic planning process, she is excited to see how they can continue to work with EmployIndy and YES to get to the root of people’s needs. “Different things work for different people,” Josephine says. “People here pick each other up to try to really connect with someone.”