Story submitted by: WIA Dislocated Worker Program Case Manager, Robert Bauer – Labor Education and Training Center
Download a printable version of Randi Drace’s Success Story
“Having lost my job of five years, I was not sure what to do next. With a family to help support, a mortgage, auto loans, and everything in between. I was completely at a loss for what to do. Now we had to figure out a way to keep it together on one income. In the blink of an eye, it seemed, everything was lost. We had to keep trying for the sake of our daughters.
The day after I lost my job, I walked into the Job Center of Wausau, WI. Friendly, helpful people met me. They helped me sign up for workshops on resumes, interview skills, and the dislocated worker program. I had plenty of options and went to all of the workshops that I could. It became my new job to find a job. However, I really liked the idea of going back to school.
I had always dreamed of having my college degree. Now was my chance to make it happen. With the help of the dislocated worker program and my family’s support, I decided to enroll at Northcentral Technical College in the Administrative Professional Program. This was so exciting! However, at the same time it was scary, as we did not have money to live on for the next two years.
I had unemployment at first, but then it went away after ten months as the state decided to cut many of its’ recipients. At that point, I honestly nearly considered quitting school. How would we ever make it with one income? I then accepted a part time work-study job at Northcentral Technical College. This helped us with a little bit of money as well as later on I also did my internship there.
Shortly after I started working as a work-study, my mother’s health continued to fail and I lost her to a heart attack. Of course, she will always be in my heart. I decided to keep pushing
forward with school because I knew how proud she was of me. I needed to do this for her and for me.
Of course as life continued so did other financial hardships. Our furnace quit working in the middle of winter and the air stopped working during blazing heat. Then my car needed repair, followed by a new battery, and a blown tire, which led to new tires. After these things ate up our money which led to a domino effect with paying our bills. Our mortgage had to be a couple months behind. The mortgage company would not take one payment and would only accept the full amount. We had our furnace quit a second time, which set us back even further. I tried to reason with the mortgage company with no avail.
I then mentioned my problem to Bob Bauer from the Dislocated Worker program. He did some checking and was able to find some help for me. Bob placed a conference call with me to the mortgage company. The company was unhelpful as before, and would not take a partial payment. Bob then helped me with a plan on what to do next. My husband was able to get help from 401K with a portion also. This all came together around the time I graduated. Before this help came our home was about to go in foreclosure.
In the midst of all the financial chaos, I joined the Phi Beta Kappa (Honor Society) and the Business Professionals of America. I was active in both clubs. I went to state and national competition for the Business Professionals of America. I even received a club member of the year award and graduate of the year award (within my program). Additionally I received nominations to be the student ambassador.
I never would have expected to achieve so much considering I dropped out of high school and received my GED by mail. Here twenty years later I walked up to receive my diploma with a cap and gown, wearing special cords. This was one of the happiest moments of my life. I know that I could not have achieved these things without help from the Job Center, the Dislocated Worker program, and most importantly, Bob Bauer.”