What is your position with Doing Good Works?
Technically my position is Purpose Printery Lead — we use an in-house printer to create name badges, plates, t-shirts, hoodies, and water bottles. I print and ship nearly everything that comes through this side of the business, which are primarily smaller orders.
How did you come to work at Doing Good Works?
It’s an interesting story. I lived in the Thrive quad with OC United that houses about eleven women. Sometimes they post job opportunities and I saw a message that Doing Good Works needed help filling backpacks for a college event for $15 an hour. I was low on money and decided to go. I tend to be a little nervous by nature and was going through a period in my life where that was a predominant personality trait. So I was filling backpacks at the speed of light and breaking a sweat! Scott was visibly impressed and said “whoa, what’s going on with you?” and I said, “Oh, it’s just adrenaline!” He liked my sense of humor. I had recently quit a retail job that wasn’t very fulfilling. After the event, I walked up to Scott and said “I am really interested in your company and I need a job. How can we make that happen?” We emailed through the summer and fall to stay in touch about potential opportunities. Then my caseworker told me about a Doing Good Works training with a printing machine for people at OC United. So I emailed him again asking if I could attend. Jolene (another Purpose Printery employee) and I attended and from that day on I was pretty much on board.
Doing Good Works is founded on the mission that every young person aging out of foster care deserves an equal chance to succeed and access to the networks and tools that can empower them. What does this mission mean to you?
I feel like there is this horrible stigma with former foster youth. I am in a scholarship program specific to foster youth and kids in other scholarship programs, it’s like they can smell it on you. They have a set image of someone who is delinquent, has problems and is unable to keep a job. I’ve experienced that stigma a lot in my life both in jobs and in school. Even my teachers would react in shock when reading my permission slips; once they saw “foster mom” they assumed that something was wrong or that I needed help. And even if I asked them for help, they probably would not be able to provide it. It’s kind of like “oh you poor thing — let me try to help” — but ultimately, I can’t do a lot for you. With Doing Good Works there’s an understanding and acknowledgment that you’ve been through something, but you aren’t treated like you are different. You are perceived as a normal person, and they want you to improve and not stay stuck in a dead-end job that doesn’t fulfill you or allow you to move up the ranks. If I went to McDonald's and told them I want to be a manager, they might laugh.
But at Doing Good Works they realize that our dreams and desires hold value and that we are more than just a statistic.
People have certain preconceived notions — if I say that I am a dependent of the court then they expect me to have all these problems and an atypical life. I don’t really have any more problems; I was just taught inappropriate coping skills and have to spend extra time to process them correctly. There is an expectation of failure and if I do slip up people won’t be surprised. Different is scary. People have their own perceptions of what is normal. If you come in and say well, I didn’t live a normal life but I’m still a normal person — I think that’s automatically surprising to people.