This is an amazing story about the inspirational impact of Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island’s Crown Heights Career Assessment Program (CHCAP) on one client that exemplifies the program’s impact upon hundreds of its participants over the past 11 years.

Chaim (name has been changed), an immigrant was in his twenties when he first came to CHCAP. He was poorly dressed, had poor English proficiency, was unable to read or write script and could only print in caps. He was in the process of getting divorced and was in search of a better life. His job at that time was kosher supervision in a fish processing plant on the night shift, a position with no benefits that prevented him from living anything like a normal life due to the long hours. He had no education to speak of and scored third and fourth grade English proficiency levels on testing.

Between 2008 and today, Chaim met with CHCAP staff many times, and explored multiple career tracks, all the while slowly pushing to achieve goals step by step. A tutor helped with the basics, then High School Equivalency courses, eventually earning him a High School diploma. Later he went on to college and earned a BA and afterwards a Masters in Social Work (MSW) degree. He recently became a licensed social worker. He did all this paying his own way. He has also learned to dress better and has greatly improved his communication skills. He is also finally ready to start looking to remarry.

He just began his first paid position. His plans include giving back to the community. With CHCAP assistance, he is now taking an additional training course that will allow him to better help victims of trauma, a specialty that he feels is needed in his neighborhood. He has become a new person prepared to grow in today’s society and looking ahead to a renewed family life.

As the CHCAP program has aged, it has become more and more common to have clients coming back for renewed guidance and assistance toward reaching their career goals.

The achievements of CHCAP over the 11 years of its existence have been nothing less than remarkable. With only one full-time staff member, the primary goal of the program, to inspire, guide and assist community members toward financial independence with dignity, has become part of the societal norm to a large extent.

The following letter is from Shana (name has been changed), who CHCAP helped to secure her current employment:

“A little over eight years ago I was on Social Security Disability, divorced, with a mentally ill drug addicted ex-husband who committed suicide, and two babies. I was not doing well…. I needed to get back on my feet again. I was a college graduate. I desperately wanted to become financially independent and rebuild my life.

“I heard that there was someone at the Community Council who helped people with precisely the career assistance I needed, and it didn’t cost anything. That was the biggest gift. I immediately called. CHCAP helped me write my resume, gave me good and helpful advice about where I should start looking for a job, and – one of the most important gifts – taught me interviewing skills… I am so grateful! I ended up going to many job interviews. I can honestly say that because of the skills taught to me by CHCAP, I was offered employment by eight of the ten places I interviewed with! There is no price tag I can put on the amount of help that was provided to me or enough words to sufficiently express my gratitude. I want to thank all who fund this amazing program. This is truly a Chesed of the greatest nature …The blessings that have come into my life as a result of this assistance are countless. May you and your families be continually blessed and always be in the position of giving in the most beautiful way.”