In February of 2020, Cedrick and his family were in a difficult position. His sister had just given birth but he and his brother-in-law were out of work. At the same time, COVID-19 was picking up steam in the United States and weakening the economy. Employers were cutting expenses to weather the coming storm, leaving few job openings for many qualified applicants. On the brink of losing hope, Cedrick and his brother-in-law decided to look for help at their local career recovery center where they met representatives from Juma. Soon, they were both on a pathway back to opportunity alongside a community of like-minded young adults working to better themselves.
“I’d had jobs before but this was different,” explained Cedrick. “It was less like a normal job and more like school for being in the workforce.” Alongside his brother-in-law and a cohort of other young people from similar backgrounds, Cedrick took advantage of opportunities to learn skills like resume writing, interviewing, and building up a LinkedIn profile, all from the safety of his home. “At the resume workshop they spoke to us about how to focus on the quality of what we write instead of just trying to fill the page. They helped us to think about what an employer is looking for on a resume. It helped me realize my resume was cluttered and helped me pair it down. I didn’t even think my resume was important but now I know it’s something I can be better at.”
The income Cedrick earned in his first months at Juma enabled him to help his family at a critical time. “We had moments where we nearly ran out of money. Thanks to the money I earned at Juma, we were able to eat and get toilet paper and soap,” said Cedrick. But in addition to that income, Cedrick believes the best thing he got from Juma is a community of like-minded peers who were also focused on personal growth. “I swear they’re like family,” he explained. “We talk to each other like we’re brothers and sisters or best friends. Even though we’ve only met in person once the people we see on the virtual videos make a huge difference. We have so much fun in the workshops.”
Through his Juma community, Cedrick found new confidence in himself and his abilities. “They really want to give us a chance to make it in the world because we didn’t have the same type of chances that people who are successful had. At Juma they want to give us that chance. It’s really amazing for me because a lot of people don’t notice the chances they’ve been given but we noticed. Juma noticed, and they really cared.”
Cedrick has also gained confidence in money management thanks to financial literacy courses covering topics like budgeting, banking, and building good credit. “They talked to us about how to manage money and savings and finances and even credit. It helped me to realize that it’s not as easy as people make it seem but it’s definitely possible.”
In the future, Cedrick hopes to go back to school to learn software engineering. As a high school student, he enjoyed computer science classes and the way they opened up a world of new problems to solve and ways to creatively help others. In the meantime, he’s grateful to have a community of peers and staff at Juma who will encourage him along the way. “Juma is giving me a second chance at feeling like I have a chance at all. I’m really grateful for that.”