In early 2017, William Vinson, homeless and unemployed, “depressed”, and at his “personal rock bottom”, suppressed his innate sense of pride and applied for SNAP benefits through the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services (DSS), for which KRA operates the PGWorks Employment & Training Program.
SNAP-participation required enrollment in the Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) Program, which included attending KRA Job Readiness Academy (JRA) Workshops. After completing the required sessions, Mr. Vinson’s appetite for more knowledge was not satisfied; thus, he continued to study, averaging forty-eight 2-hour sessions annually for the next 3 years!
Mr. Vinson approached Mrs. Gina Brotherton Mayo, JRA Facilitator/ABAWD Program Coordinator, about volunteer opportunities with KRA. He had become acutely aware of how critical pre-employment training and development was to sustainable job-placement, and wanted to be able to provide that service to his community.
Through an unpaid internship, Mr. Vinson supported both KRA- and DSS-program operations, developing a strong working knowledge of ABAWD and TCA/TANF policies and procedures, and how the two entities work collaboratively to ensure jobseekers receive services customized to their short- and long-term career goals.
Mr. Vinson’s both-sides-of-the desk experiences convinced him that, if possible, he wanted to become a KRA Career Agent. With guidance and support from Mrs. Brotherton Mayo; Ms. Melody Daniel, Program Manager; and his own Career Agent, Ms. Javada Murphy, his on-the-job training began in earnest.
After 2 years, he applied for a Career Agent position, and following an intensive, three interview-hiring process, received an offer letter with a start date of March 16, 2020. However, Mr. Vinson’s second week on the job was quite different from his first. Exactly 1 week after he started, due to COVID-19, Maryland closed down all non-essential businesses, and urged employers to promote work-from-home arrangements, if possible.
Today, Mr. Vinson, in permanent housing with his daughter and son with him again, comments, “I’m truly grateful for this journey, and the opportunity to work for KRA, helping people like myself get their lives back on track.”
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