After her husband passed away in the summer of 2022, Angela Ford-Perry faced a crossroads in her life. Suddenly Angela was a widow, and was raising three grandchildren.
It was around this time that Angela knew she had to get back in the workforce, but it wouldn’t be easy. She reached out to America’s Job Center of California (AJCC) in Palmdale, to seek out her options going forward. Her resume included a 20+ year stint as a health worker at the USC hospital in the area. Although she loved her job at the hospital, at times she worked 12-to-14-hour shifts. She wanted more, as the old job would only leave her with a few moments to spare with her grandchildren.
She applied for CalWorks to receive assistance and was immediately enrolled into Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN), L.A. County’s program that helps people in her position receive employment-related services to find a position, stay employed, and move on to higher-paying jobs.
“Because of the pandemic, I hadn’t actually gone in to see anyone. Everything was done verbally over the phone, and it just so happens that one of the managers here at the facility was the one that actually called me to start the process with TSE (Transitional Subsidized Employment),” said Angela. “I was actually joking with my case worker and asked how do I actually get a job working for GAIN and she said go on Indeed.com.”
She soon learned that JVS SoCal would be part of a job fair, and they were looking for case managers. At the job fair, she spoke with JVS SoCal’s personnel, filed out an application a couple of days later. In time, she was offered employment.
Being on the other side of the desk has helped Angela assist her clients with empathy, as she knows how it feels to be an applicant and going through the whole process. It also helps her clients understand better what the program is and what it can do for them.
“Now with me being on the inside, as opposed to the person on the outside, I would say being a case worker and being able to give back. [it’s satisfying] because I know what it’s like to be that person on the other side of that phone,” explains Angela.
Her personal experience helps her to make clients who show frustration about the application process understand the reasons behind all the requirements of the GAIN program.
“I’m not making you do anything, I’m just here to help you. ‘You need to understand that I’m no different from you. I’ve been you,” Angela tells participants.
Having worked in healthcare for more than 20 years, Angela feels happy in her new role, even though it’s totally different. They do have one thing in common: she gets to help people, just like she did while tending to patients on her previous job.
“It’s rewarding because I got to help people when I worked at the hospital, working with the technicians, the nurses and family. Same thing here. I think it’s a little more rewarding here only because I’ve been that person. I have been on the other side. I know what people go through when you’re utilizing the system. I just encourage my clients to utilize GAIN, get out there, get a job, go to school,” Angela continues.
“The mother and the grandma in me make it more rewarding when I can help a younger person who is just starting out.”