On October 5th, 2021, we hosted the 7th Annual Employment Champions Breakfast, our annual fundraiser celebrating hiring and community partners and the candidates they impact. This year, Skills awarded UChicago Medicine with the Champion for the Unemployed Award. On hand to recount her personal and professional development thanks to Skills and the Career Pathway programs at UChicago Medicine was Loretta Smith.
Below is a transcript of her remarks.
Thank you all for having me today.
My name is Loretta Smith. I am a lifelong resident of the south side of Chicago, and I grew up in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. I am a mother to three busy boys: one who is in college, one in high school, and the youngest is three-years old.
My journey to here started seven years ago. At the time, I was working for a retirement facility, where I had been for a few years, but was stuck making minimum wage with no path to upward mobility. I was tired of being in a bind and living paycheck to paycheck. I needed more for my family. I applied to various roles on my own for seven years, but never got calls back.
It was during a visit to University of Chicago Medical Center when I found out about Skills. My job at the retirement facility often required me to take trips to UCM, and I eventually grew relationships with the staff. One day, I asked a staff member how they were able to get hired. I told them I’d been trying for years and had been unsuccessful. And they told me, “It’s a company called Skills for Chicagoland’s Future. If you go there, you will get a job.” That night, I got online and filled out my information. A recruiter from Skills called me the next morning. From there, I was hired as a patient transporter at UCM.
It was such a blessing for me to get that big break. Now that I had my foot in the door, I was determined to take every opportunity presented to me to continue moving up. When I learned about the Career Pathway program, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. It was a 10 week training program to become a Nursing Staff Assistant.
Through this program, I’ve been fortunate to earn my Patient Care Tech license. I am now a full-time nursing support assistant. I have a renewed sense of confidence in my abilities to provide for my family. I no longer live paycheck to paycheck. Because of my job at UCM I am a first-time home buyer and even bought my first brand-new car.
Working with Skills and UCM has completely changed my life. I have the resources to support my children, participate in activities, and just being able to take them on vacation makes me feel very blessed.
Thank you Skills for helping me and so many people and their families. It is great to have an organization that will advocate for you and help you get the job that you want. And thank you UCM for your commitment to hiring local South Side community members and creating pathways to advancement.