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Pennsylvania

Workforce Success Story Submitted By:
Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, Inc


Meet Charene

Customer Photo

Workforce Challenge

Charene was an Allentown, PA resident and a 21 year old single mother. On July 2, 2012, Charene came to the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, Inc (LVWIB) CareerFORCE center after her mother walked into her grandfather’s grocery store, where she was working part-time, handed her the CareerFORCE application and told her “you are signing up for this program.”
Although Charene graduated from high school and has basic skills, she did not attend college. At the age of 18, Charene discovered that she was pregnant and had to hide this for several months. Charene values time spent with her son but without a second parent involved, she became a mother and father both financially and emotionally. Charene and her son have been allowed to live with her mother, two brothers and two sisters since she was 18 and receives food stamps. Prior to joining the program, Charene’s mother was helping her financially, but her ultimate goal is to become financially independent and be able to live on her own with her son.

Workforce Solution

Once Charene started the CareerFORCE program operated by LVWIB contractor Henkels & McCoy Training Services, she learned that she was interested in business. The Occupational Information Network Interest Profiler indicated that she had interests in assisting others, giving advice, promoting learning and personal development, and working with data and details. In the program, she learned employability skills such as filling out an application, resume and cover letter development, and interviewing skills.

Outcomes & Benefits

Two local Nationwide Insurance agencies heard about the CareerFORCE summer work experience employment program in the Lehigh and Northampton counties, and jumped at the opportunity to improve the life of the Lehigh Valley’s youth. Based on Charene’s interest in business, her academic abilities and personal interests, the CareerFORCE staff placed her at Nationwide’s Allentown location.

Brian Wiersch, an agent at Nationwide Insurance, was the contact person and liaison for the work experience. Brian took Charene under his wing and in one week called back the CareerFORCE for “more like her.” Charene’s passion for working with people allowed her to flourish at the Nationwide office. She demonstrated her abilities by calling customers and taking calls regarding insurance costs and variations.

Charene was hired as a full time assistant agent in August 2012 and says that the work environment is great with a supportive, easy going team, opportunities to meet new people and manage their accounts. There are also many training opportunities for growth within the company and her career.

In December 2012 Charene received her insurance license and plans on continuing with Nationwide and developing a customer base. In fact, the National Retail Federation’s Customer Service Certification she earned while in the Summer Work Experience Program helped her answer similar questions for her license.

Charene is grateful for the CareerFORCE Program and the overall opportunities provided which changed her life and future for herself and her son. Charene is excited about the opportunity to continue her career and to show her son that hard work, skills and training, continue to pay off.


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