Warehousing/logistics program provides a second chance at success

November 22, 2022

The Food Bank of Delaware’s L.O.G.I.C. (Logistics, Operations, General Warehousing and Inventory Control) training program was the second chance Karen needed.

She has been in recovery since November 2021 and arrived at Sojourners’ Place, a shelter that provides comprehensive services, in February 2022 to get her life back on track.

Karen describes the shelter as a “temporary place for people who are searching for a better future… they teach you – literally – how to live again.”

When she arrived at Sojourners’ Place, she had hit rock bottom; “I didn’t think I was going to be happy.”

She describes herself as spiritual and says, “God puts you where you need to be, when you need to be there.”

Through Sojourners’ Place she was able to connect with Greg Oakley, the Food Bank of Delaware’s Recruitment Coordinator for workforce training programs.

As part of program requirements at the shelter, Karen had to participate in classes and a work search to help her on the path to self-sufficiency.

“My work search is how I met Greg,” she explains. “I would have never met Greg if it wasn’t for Sojourners’ Place.”

Greg put Karen at ease, and she knew right away that the program was a good fit for her, especially since the Food Bank assists students with finding jobs.

Over the years, Karen has held jobs in landscaping, construction and medical invoicing. Her experience using large lawn mowers in the landscaping field helped her feel more confident entering the program and learning how to use warehouse equipment.

Since September, Karen and her classmates have been working under the guidance of Operations Instructor Joe Cunha to learn how to use major equipment like forklifts, end riders, lift trucks, order pickers and pallet jacks. They train in the warehouse of the Food Bank of Delaware in Newark, and students have the opportunity to receive four certifications – Certified Logistics Associate, Certified Logistics Technician, OSHA-10 and forklift.

Karen loves coming to class. “I have so much fun here,” she says. “It is one of the most fun experiences that I have ever had. Between the life coach Samuel [Dixon, Workforce Training Programs Coordinator] and the instructor Joe, and the classmates, we truly do have a lot of fun in class.”

For the first time in a long time, Karen is happy.

“It never dawned on me. It was never even a thought that I could be happy,” she explains. “One thing that I have heard since I have been in recovery is, ‘Don’t let anyone steal your joy.’ I always thought, ‘What joy are they talking about?’ One day it was like a candle lit inside of me and I found my joy. It came on unexpectedly. And I realized that when I found my joy, I knew better to let anybody steal it.”

As part of life skills training, Samuel asks the class every day what number they are – one through 10. “I am always a 10,” says Karen. “You make a choice to be happy. I have so much to be happy for. I know what I am grateful for.”

With graduation just a week away, Karen has already landed a job at Goodwill Recycling’s New Castle warehouse.

She points out that she wants to focus her new career on helping others and giving back, so Goodwill is a perfect fit.

Karen is excited about what her future holds. She says it’s important to for her to step out of her comfort zone and not be afraid.

“If you don’t have fear you are capable of doing anything. There is no such thing as failure. It’s just multiple attempts at success,” she points out.

Karen knows she is exactly where she needs to be in life and is grateful that the Food Bank has equipped her with the needed skills as she starts this new chapter.

As she works to get her feet on the ground with full-time employment, she is also working with the Food Bank’s Stand By Me Coach, Marilyn Ramirez. Marilyn is helping Karen build credit. She knows that it will take “time and patience.”

“Things mean a lot more when you have to work for them or wait for them,” she says.

With the next L.O.G.I.C. class starting in January, Karen advises others to enroll.

“If you show up, you will succeed,” she advises.

For others in recovery, Karen says, “Never give up on yourself. You will come to a point where you feel helpless. In the end, you will get back more than you had. If you strive, and you don’t give up, you will end up with more than you started with.”

The next 14-week training program of L.O.G.I.C. begins Tuesday, January 17 at the Food Bank in Newark. To apply for the free training opportunity, click here.

To learn more about Sojourner’s Place, click here.






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