A Family Reunited

People make mistakes – and Sierra Reeves, 23, is no exception.

The difference? She doesn’t plan on letting those mistakes define her life.

“After my kids got taken from me, part of my case plan was to attend domestic violence classes and a parenting class,” said a teary-eyed Reeves sitting in an Employment Pathways Collaborative Program classroom in East Tampa.

“At the time I was only working part-time at Subway, which wasn’t considered stable income. When I found out about the EPC program from my case worker, I went ahead and enrolled right away.”

Reeves initiative changed the course of her life.

Employment Pathways Collaborative supports young adults in the East Tampa area who have recently been involved in the judicial system. Hoping to create a ripple effect for a more positive community, the program offers educational, vocational and work readiness services to interested applicants.

After her three children – ages 6, 4 and 2 – were placed into foster care, Reeves was more than willing.

“I came here every day to learn how to build resumes and stuff,” recalled Reeves. “I ended up getting a job interview at Resident Inn and ended up getting that job. I still came to classes though. I had more to learn.”

For Reeves, the separation brought heartbreak and perspective. Not only did she learn how to create a resume, she workshopped mock interviews with staff members at EPC, and attended job fairs under their guidance.

“It was a new experience,” she said. “The last nine months I was able to work on myself and better myself for my kids. I realized I should put all that I have into them.”

Program Manager Tessa Randolph saw the change in Sierra as she progressed in her classes.

One of the program’s more dedicated students, Sierra formed relationships with staff members at EPC – replacing old, negative associations with the EPC’s positive mentorship opportunities.

“Every young person that walks through our doors has potential,” said Ms. Tessa, a nickname her students have affectionately given her. “I promise you, I see it every day. Not everyone has Sierra’s drive though. She worked so hard, and it’s finally paying off. She’s getting those babies back.”

The EPC is constantly accepting new students.

To submit a referral or for more information about the Employment Pathways Collaborative program, contact Tessa Randolph at (813) 539-0175 or Zrandolph@paxen.com.