Jenny Butler

My name is Jenny Butler, and I’m very happy that I’ve been given the opportunity to share my experience from the GED program at Foothills Family Resources!
To give you a little background information about me, I was born in Greenville, SC, but I grew up in Oaxaca, Mexico. My parents moved there to become missionaries when I was less than a year old. I was homeschooled, but my parents were both very busy with their work, so it was rare that they would have time to help me. Lacking the discipline I needed to do the work on my own, I quickly fell behind. The last grade I completed was 5th grade, and that became my biggest insecurity.
When I was almost 13 years old, my family received a serious threat from a drug cartel and we were forced to move back to SC overnight. I attempted to continue homeschooling, but my parents were busier than ever, scrambling to find new jobs and a house for us.
By the time I was around 16 years old, I had finally given up on school. My parents had skipped me through to 9th grade, but I never even made it halfway through. I was humiliated. I remember having a lot of ambition in the past, but then I found myself working in a restaurant 7 days a week with very little to show for it, and in my mind that was as good as it was going to get for me. Any job better than that felt like such a distant reality. It was almost exhausting just trying to imagine it.
When I turned 19, I tried going to two different GED schools, but neither of them helped me move forward. I needed something with structure and someone to guide me every step of the way, but those places didn’t offer that.
A year later, my dad suggested I go to the Foothills Family Resources (FFR) GED class. I already felt like I was at the lowest point in my life at that time and the last thing I wanted to do was deal with the embarrassment of another failure. It took days of convincing before I actually gave in and agreed to go just to humor my dad. I had been out of school so long, the possibility of actually passing the tests didn’t even cross my mind.
I walked in the classroom reluctantly and spoke with the teachers, Karen and Jeff. I could instantly see that they genuinely cared about helping us students. Throughout each class, I was amazed at how they gave each individual the attention we needed. They really encouraged us to ask questions when we had them and they pushed us to do our best. I found myself passing one test after the other until I only had one left before I would officially graduate! After being weighed down by this for so long, I actually felt completely capable of achieving this goal for the first time in years!
In between tests, I was also going through the Center for Working Families program that FFR provides, where my counselor, Paula, was helping me prepare for life after I graduated. She helped me with things like building a resume, practicing for job interviews, and setting a budget, among other things.
A few days prior to taking my last test, the Center for Working Families program Coordinator, Kristen, and Executive Director, David, called me into the office before class. I was nervous, thinking they were about to tell me that I was in trouble for something. Much to my surprise, I was offered a job instead! I was so happy, I agreed to it before they even told me what the job was!
My life has changed drastically since I walked into the GED class that first day. I’ve been working here for over a year now and I’m still just as thrilled being the Intake Coordinator for FFR as I was the day after I passed my final GED test. I’m eternally grateful to every single person at Foothills Family Resources for helping me along the way!


Center for Working Families Success: Charlene

Success!

Charlene

Charlene, a single mother of three, first came to FFR in need of assistance with her utility bill just as school began in September. Struggling with a lack of education, work history and with food insecurity, FFR first made sure the lights stayed on before educating her on new options available that could change the course of her family’s future forever. She was the first Center for Working Families participant, and the first graduate.

Three months later, Charlene was enrolled at Greenville Tech. While studying to become a Patient Care Technician, CWF provided financial counseling, résumé development and interview skills techniques. Charlene graduated and is currently working in the pulmonary ward at Greenville Hospital. In less than one year, she went from struggling to keep the lights on to a career in healthcare and the ability to support her family. She is now surrounded by professionals that will help to further change her view on what the future holds.


Center for Working Families Success: Shandy

Success!

Shandy

A single mother of one, Shandy came to FFR regularly in need of food and housing assistance. Her barriers to success included a lack of adequate education, poor work history, food insecurity and housing concerns. Beyond this, she has a disability which requires regular blood transfusions, though this is not something she felt should prevent her from providing for her son. After counseling from FFR and Greenville Tech staff, she determined that working in the medical field as a  professional coder would not only be rewarding, but would be a career she could succeed in despite her disability.

Shandy has completed all soft skills work in the CWF, her coursework at Greenville Tech and is now a Certified Professional Coder Apprentice. Her own doctor is so impressed with her that he is also working with her to attain employment, and she has begun the application process. Shandy is an excellent example of a person that, though fighting a disability, found a field that she could succeed in and will provide for her family. Not only is her future bright because of her hard work, but her son’s is as well.