Andre Carson is succeeding -- one step at a time

Succeeding -- One step at a time

Andre Carson simply describes his movement from Saint Benedict Education Center to working at the Inner-City Neighborhood Art House as succeeding “one step at a time”.

When Andre was at SBEC his case manager, Kara Bauer, remembers him as always having “a smile on his face.  Hard circumstances made him have to ‘start all over’ as a single father.  Sometimes it was one step forward and two steps backward, but he kept the smile.  His friendly and positive attitude kept him moving in the correct direction.  He was a pleasure to work with because of this openness and honesty.”

Don Feeney, Workforce Readiness Specialist, adds:  “His attendance was excellent.  He took advantage of all the training I had to offer.” After a few weeks he was ready for employment.

Andre began working in maintenance at the Inner-City Neighborhood Art House in June, 2019.  

Annette Marshall, O.S.B., Executive Director at the time speaks of Andre as having a good attitude but no maintenance skills.  He was hired, and his openness and good, positive attitude allowed him to be taught many basic skills.  She noted: “Once he learned something, he had it.  He took suggestions well.  Andre had a good sense of ‘ownership’ of the place.  He cared for it.”

With a new Executive Director Andre has expanded his primary sources of instruction.  One source of learning is the staff at Kraus Department Store.  A second is YouTube.  Director Kelly Stolar spoke of his use of both these resources.  She also noted another kind of learning.  With a change in administration Andre is learning to adapt to the changes in style and expectations that such an adjustment normally requires.

When asked to reflect on his own life and experiences Andre immediately said, “I’m a work in progress.  It’s one step at a time.”

He then proudly shared that he’s helping keep the children at the Art House safe.  Andre explained that his new supervisor has him begin his workday by cleaning up the outside area around the building.  Each morning he removes trash from the property that could injure the children. He finds things in the yard that he prefers “the children not see”, which he removes before they arrive.  “I want to keep them safe.”

This concern for the children is clearly evident in Andre’s care for his 12-year-old son.  His desire to be available to his son determined the schedule choices Andre made and the goals he shared while at SBEC and presently.  

While at St. Benedict’s Andre took every course that was offered.  He liked working in “The Factory”, assembling plastic parts to fulfill orders. He enjoyed “putting production out” and encouraged those working with him to be more productive in their work.  He appreciated shopping in the incentive store, “Treasures & Such”, as a way of stretching the limited income he had.  In addition, Andre made reference to information provided to him by Diane Catrabone, who was then working as a Financial Counselor.  “I took what I could get out of the program,” he said.

Andre speaks easily of actions and decisions he’s making, his goals, and his work at the Art House.  His experience and learnings from SBEC continue to be present and an effective influence on his natural desire to improve life for his son and himself.

The maintenance job offers continual challenges in addition to the routine tasks each day:  How to fix a door; dealing with locks; knowing how to properly utilize tools; and more.  Dealing with personal and scheduling stresses and needs is always part of the reality, as well.

Andre has gotten a driver’s license and purchased a vehicle.  He’s working on saving some money.  Using financial tips from SBEC he’s buying some items in bulk and learning to cook a few basic dishes at home rather than picking up something quick from the store.  He’s staying around Erie, taking “just little trips” to save money on gas.

These actions are partially fueled by a larger goal of better housing for his son.  He’d like to get a house.  “It’s hard to live in an apartment.” 

When asked to identify what success is for him Andre becomes more philosophical.  Success is:  “Moving up.  Keeping my mind clear.  Being able to handle what’s going on.  Being a productive member.”

We wish you well, Andre, as you make progress in achieving your career and personal goals.  

May your desire to progress never diminish as you move forward “one step at a time”.