In September 2018 Tommie walked into the Marathon County Job Center to get help finding a job. He soon got connected with the FoodShare Employment & Training Program, and Amy Hoppa from the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act Young Adult Program. Tommie knew the value of building a team of supporters to get him on a better track.
Tommie dreamt of becoming a diesel technician, but didn’t think attending a traditional education program was a good fit for him. He worked closely with his support team to determine his needs and barriers in working toward his dream job. From the beginning, Tommie displayed motivation. Amy knew he would need to find stable housing and a driver’s license, as well as an opportunity to gain experience in the automotive field. Amy reached out to several employers that offered tours and was able to set up a couple interviews, but his criminal background and lack of driver’s license continued to be an obstacle.
By November, Tommie found a company that was willing to give him an opportunity to intern as an auto mechanic. Through the WIOA Program, Amy worked with the employer to set up the internship which allowed Tommie to earn a livable wage while he gained skills in the industry. Tommie proved to be dependable and willing to learn new things. A month into the internship, the employer wanted to hire Tommie as a full-time employee. The obstacle this time was the tools he needed for the job. Amy coordinated with WIOA, FSET and Windows to Work Programs to help fund the basic tools he needed to get hired. The internship turned into an on-the-job training. Tommie started his real employment in mid-December, making an additional $2 an hour.
The new career didn’t always go smoothly for Tommie. Like any new employee, Tommie got frustrated with having to do a lot of the ‘grunt work’ that goes with being the newest hire. He knew he could meet with Amy when he needed to talk. Tommie also had concerns with budgeting and finding more positive relationships than those he had in the past. The team continued to support Tommie as he worked through these obstacles. WIOA and FSET helped Tommie get his driver’s license, while the local driving instructor let him use a car in order to take his road test.
In the last year, Tommie has retained employment, secured stable housing, and purchased his own truck. He received a significant raise, which has allowed him to add tools to his toolbox. He hasn’t given up on his dream of becoming a diesel mechanic, until then he plans to continue working. Tommie also has a personal goal. He continues to play semi-pro football with the Marshfield Bandits.
Amy Hoppa would like to add, “Tommie’s motivation was evident from the beginning and he didn’t want to waste any time. He was very dedicated to making a better future for himself and getting a chance to prove himself as an employee. I have no doubt he will achieve what he sets his mind to.”