As Giving Tuesday 2017 approaches, we asked our staff member Sarah to tell us her #GivingStory about why she gives back to the Central Texas community through her career at Skillpoint.

“I began volunteering with Skillpoint Alliance (Austin, TX) approximately six years ago while they were running First LEGO League robotics competitions for Central Texas. Little did I know though, is that the Skillpoint staff was not only changing lives for teens interested in STEM careers, but they were also helping to rebuild individuals’ lives who were trying to restart their careers without taking on debt as I was enrolled in a college degree plan. I didn’t know much about the Gateway program when I officially joined the team, but the inspiration I’ve seen from our instructors, team members and graduates is why I get up and come to work every day.

The Skillpoint Alliance Gateway program is a 23-year old program dedicated to training individuals in the skilled trade (HVAC, Electrical and Pipefitting) fields and in Healthcare (Certified Nurse Aide and Medication Aide). This program encompasses hands-on learning while also providing soft skills development to give every graduate the opportunity to enter the workforce well rounded and ready for success.

Although I came into the Skillpoint family as a STEM advocate, I have the ability now to see the changes the Gateway program makes on a daily basis. As the media specialist, I give back to our students through visual storytelling. Every class I sit down with our students and take professional headshots and video interview students who have been greatly impacted by our program. The Gateway program serves Central Texans who are homeless, are single moms, or may even have recently left incarceration. We support these students as much as we can by providing transportation, holding graduation ceremonies and checking in after they leave our program so our graduates feel supported regardless of the influences outside of the classroom.

Seeing the transition from acceptance to graduation in each student and the challenges they overcome during our 8 week full time class, is why I give back. I have seen graduates go from being homeless (living out of their car during class) to making $23 an hour, and renting their first apartment. My passion for workforce development is fueled by the impact we have on our community and why I continue to give back every single day.”

Sarah’s #GivingStory is just one of many within the Skillpoint family. Share yours with us on Twitter, by mentioning us @Skillpoint.