Richard is a devoted father with a calm, steady spirit. Talking about his son, you can hear the pride welling up with every sentence. He describes his son’s leadership in the school band, musical talents, amazing adaptability to all kinds of situations, and just how much of a people person he is – as well as their mutual love of the outdoors.
Richard began staying home with his son after a back surgery five years ago, saying “With my back problems and the surgery I had 5 years ago, that turned out to be the best job for me. My now ex-wife, she brought home the money, she had a good career in IT, so it allowed me to be with my son, which was wonderful, except that I needed an income as well being on my own now.” At the time of his surgery, Richard and his family were living in Colorado. When they returned to NC and after he and his wife divorced, Richard started working towards being able to re-enter the workforce after several years focused on time at home with his son.
He heard about CEF from a friend, and first attended one of our community cookouts. From there, Richard joined our weekly Saturday morning Opportunity Class led by Mike Wood. “For a lot of the folks in the class, it was great getting together once a week and being in touch with each other. You know how each other is sort of doing, and talk about jobs, talk about what kind of success everyone has had with interviews, all kinds of housing opportunities.”
Since graduating from the class, Richard shares, “My whole world has changed now. I spend 60 hours a week and sometimes 70 hours a week working, with one day off and 12-hour days. I just remember [Opportunity Class] kind of getting me up out of the rut.”
Richard landed a job in his field, as a Service Representative for a car dealership! To get ready, Richard worked with Mike and several volunteers. His Advocate, Claire, helped him to update his resume and polish it for specific opportunities. He started meeting regularly with Dick, a volunteer who helps CEF members prepare for job interviews. “Dick counseled with me for about an hour at a time working on my resume and interviewing, and either he mentioned or I mentioned, saying I’d like to have an opportunity to maybe do some volunteer work.” Dick connected Richard with CEF’s volunteer coordinator, who set Richard up to start volunteering at our front desk.
Funny enough, Richard says that it was the experience of volunteering at our front desk that made him feel ready to go back to work. It was a big adjustment at first with a lot to learn. “Going from being that at-home dad to volunteering at CEF was the bigger step because I didn’t have any background in that, I felt good about being able to do it. Once I had done that for those 3 weeks, it felt like only a small step up to go start my job.” Comparing his time at CEF to his full-time job, he shares, “I was answering the phone, talking with people that needed our help, scheduling them in the system, and then having them then come in and meeting with the advocate. It’s not so different from what I’m doing now… It was easy to transition from CEF working the front desk to service advisor.”
Looking back on his whole experience and when he describes CEF to others, the best part to him is that “It’s a community that people can feel a sense of security with at CEF. People they can trust, people they recognize.” We have been lucky to have Richard as a part of the CEF community, as a member in Opportunity Classes, as a volunteer, and now as an Alumni Member. Congratulations, Richard!