Wings is proud to share with you the next installment in our client success story series:
As a college professor with a PhD, Charmaine always assumed that she’d retire as a professor. But in 2008, she was blindsided when she lost her job, an event that set her down a path of economic hardship.
“In academia, there’s usually two hundred applicants for every job opening posted,” explains Charmaine. “In 2008, however, that number jumped to about two thousand. It was impossible to find work.”
So Charmaine broadened her job search to include the entire United States, even though that meant potentially moving far away from family and friends. Despite widening her search, no jobs surfaced.
At first, she got by on savings and unemployment compensation. When that ran out, she dipped into her retirement account.
In 2012, Charmaine found part-time work as a babysitter in a private school, a job that paid only $150 per week. Unable to pay all her utility bills, she soon found late fees piling up. In 2014, her house went into foreclosure and she wound up homeless, forced to live in her car with her dog, Samson. Having a dog made it difficult for Charmaine to find housing but she refused to abandon Samson.
As a veteran, Charmaine sought support from the Veterans Health and Service Center. It was this organization that referred her to Wings for Success.
“By the time I came to Wings, all my professional clothes were worn out,” she says. “Wings gave me professional winter clothing along with shoes and accessories. I’m six feet tall with a size 11 wide shoe and Wings was able to find clothes that fit me.”
Charmaine warmly recalls her first visit to Wings: “When I walked into Wings, I was the only client. There were three women helping me…I felt like Cinderella! I really needed that.”
Dressed in one of her Wings outfits, Charmaine interviewed for a position at the Montgomery County Veterans Affairs Department. The position involved helping homeless veterans in the county find housing—a mission that resonated with her personally. “I blew the interview out of the water,” she gushes, “and got the job!”
For over a year, Charmaine has been working in the Veterans Affairs Department. “I love this job even more than being a professor because I’m able to make an immediate impact,” she admits, before adding with well-deserved gratification, “I’m thriving in this job!”