Welfare-to-Work graduates find a new life | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Welfare-to-Work graduates find a new life

Patrick McCartney

Five of the 10 students in El Dorado County’s first Welfare-to-Work class at South Lake Tahoe found employment immediately.

The new program, designed by human resource professionals from Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Harveys Hotel Resort/Casino, provides aid recipients with 15 hours of intensive class work a week for three weeks.

The curriculum is aimed at giving the students both the skills they will need to succeed in the workplace, and the encouragement to seek employment.

“It was a very good program,” said Danyele Schwab of South Lake Tahoe, who had been scraping by on unemployment and family aid. “It not only boosted your spirits, but gave you incentive.”

While Schwab had never been away from a job for very long, she credited Welfare to Work with changing her outlook.

“I found unemployment was easy to live on, so I got into a rut,” said Schwab.

Schwab was hired by Heavenly Ski Resort after graduating from the program, and has arranged her schedule so she can look for another job at the end of the ski season.

“I should be able to make it on my own,” she said.

Cathy Rodriguez, who supports two of her four children, had received family aid for the better part of two years. She was skeptical of the training program initially, but said she was enthusiastic by the end.

“I went into it because I had to go” or lose benefits, Rodriguez said. “I also knew that this was something that I would have to do sooner or later. But after I was there, I ended up wanting to be there. It was a lot more beneficial than I expected.”

After graduating, Rodriguez was hired by Starbucks Coffee, and has been training in Reno. Under the new welfare rules, she will retain a fraction of her former benefits while earning $6 an hour at her new job.

Life still won’t be easy, Rodriguez said, but she is optimistic about the future.

“It’s hectic, but we’re all adjusting,” Rodriguez said.

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