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Meet SBEC Program Participants

Heather Guldenshuh

Heather Guldenshuh, SBEC participant

At SBEC, Heather Guldenshuh learned a valuable life lesson – to take one challenge at a time. “I don’t think I would have been able to get a job on my own. I wasn’t sure I could make it. I had a little one to take care of, no child support and everything seemed so overwhelming.“ Heather also described some learning challenges she has.

While the goal for all program participants at SBEC is always employment, the program coordinators are very adept at taking a holistic approach when working with students. Barriers to employment are identified and a unique plan for each participant is developed to confront such challenges. “We address the socio-economic barriers to employment,” explains program coordinator Diane Catrabone. “We call this ‘an individualized income improvement plan’ and it will be different for each student as each person’s life circumstances are unique.” In classes, Heather learned communication skills that improved her confidence. She learned to prepare a resume, a cover letter and to practice interviewing for jobs. “This is a very good program. My program coordinator was interested in me as a whole person and helped me every step of the way to get a job.”

In addition, Heather found her experience in community service, both in the Factory at SBEC and at Rainbow Connection, to be particularly helpful, “because I actually did something. I am a hands on person and I like to work.” This industrious spirit soon paid off and Heather was quickly hired by a local hotel group where she is responsible for preparing and serving the daily buffet breakfast. Heather enjoys her work very much. Some years back, Heather started a culinary arts course, so working in food services is a nice alignment with those interests. “I love the work I do, especially interacting with the hotel guests.” The managers, too, are very pleased with her work. Her easy and friendly manner are exactly what busy business travelers need in the morning. “A guest went to the front desk to offer compliments; I found that very thoughtful.”

Heather’s life is “so much better now” as she describes it. She earns more money and is better able to provide for her son. In addition, she is able to help her parents with whom she lives. She explains: “My Dad had some car trouble recently. He does not charge me for gas and drives me to work each day. So I was able to help him with this repair. I like to help out when I can.” Looking ahead, Heather is working to get a driver’s permit and is saving for a place of her own. At SBEC, she learned to take one step at a time toward employment. Those lessons are still valuable as she continues to take one step at a time to improve her life.