Helping Hand Rewards partner Bright Endeavors is a Chicago-based social enterprise that is committed to helping homeless and at-risk young women, between the ages of 16-25, gain the necessary skills to become self-sufficient, successful adults. They offer transitional employment through its natural candle line Dreambean Candles and provide each participant with the guidance and training needed to build a foundation that leads to the achievement of personal and professional goals. Profits generated from the sales of Dreambean Candles go towards funding for training, support, education and permanent job placement for their participants.
The following is a personal success story of one of their participants. It’s stories like these that make doing business with social enterprises make even more sense!
Jamie was a nineteen-year-old single mother when she joined Bright Endeavors in May 2008. Initially, Jamie expected simply to learn how to make candles but she quickly realized there was much more to be gained.
Every day presented new challenges for her both at home and at Bright Endeavors. Outside of Bright Endeavors Jamie had experienced homelessness, inadequate health care for her son, the loss of family support and the everyday struggles of raising a newborn baby by herself. Frequently Jamie would come to work appearing to be overwhelmed by the various day-to-day demands on her, but she was able to find warmth and support with the staff and participants at Bright Endeavors.
One of Jamie’s first struggles was managing a work schedule while meeting the ever-changing needs of her infant son. On one given morning Jamie appeared to be less connected to work than usual. She didn’t participate in the daily pre-shift meeting and returned to her work station with little enthusiasm. In most work places this would be misinterpreted as an employee with a poor attitude and could lead to future workplace issues. Because of the staffing design of Bright Endeavors, a manager was able to pull her aside and talk through the negative performance. What became clear was that her behavior had nothing to do with the work at hand. Her son was ill and Jamie was out of solutions. The lack of support and erratic suggestions by her doctor to alter her son’s diet, coupled with the clinic’s inability to vaccinate her son, sent Jamie into a tailspin. Reeling from the stress and worry of her son’s well being, Jamie was paralyzed and unable to think of anything else. With Bright Endeavors’ support and input Jamie developed a firm plan; she was able to proactively manage the health care of her child, find a new pediatrician and elevate her work performance. Now she is a valued leader on the production floor. She trains new associates in candle production and often leads pre-shift and post-shift discussions.
In the future Jamie hopes to have a home for her and her son and be on her way to earning a medical degree, specifically in pediatrics. In her own words, “There aren’t a lot of jobs or programs that you can go into that are actually going to be concerned with what happens outside of work, and here there is always someone to talk to and help you with your problems.” She embodies our motto, “renewable resources…renewed spirits”.
(This story, along with others, can also be found at our home website. Check it out here!)