The WIN (Workforce Initiative Now) program is off to a great start on the North Metro Rail Line, thanks to RRP’s amazing receptionist, Renée Lightburn. Renée was hired through the WIN program and this is her story.
After being laid off in 2013, Renée was at The Gathering Place, a local job source center, looking for a job that would provide stability into the future. Among their many services, the Gathering Place offers educational programs like GED Preparation, Core Skills Tutoring and Employment Services focused on job-related topics such as resume and cover letter writing, networking, and interviewing. Volunteers are also able to assist members in completing on-line job applications. But most importantly, The Gathering Place works with a number of organizations including WIN which is a collaborative partnership between RTD, Community College of Denver, Denver Transit Partners (DTP) and the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver that helps job seekers, companies, and local communities through the creation of career opportunities in the transportation and construction industries.
Janice Woodward, Education and Job Readiness Program Manager at The Gathering Place, encouraged Renée to come back for a WIN orientation. At the orientation, Renée was instructed to send a letter and resume to WIN’s Office Manager, Rosella Palacios, and complete a WIN participant application. And that’s all it took! Rosella placed her in the database and her path to the RRP began.
In February of 2014, Katrina Wert , Director of Workforce Initiatives from WIN contacted Renée and asked her if she might be interested in an administrative job on the North Metro Rail Line. Renée was thrilled but later in the conversation found out she’d have to get to an interview in Westminster and she had no transportation. Not a problem said Katrina, we’ll provide you bus passes for the trip out there!!
Renée interviewed soon after, but with construction being construction, she didn’t actually get offered the position for another six months. She came to work for RRP in August of 2014 and credits not only WIN but the Center for Women’s Employment (CWEE), the Denver Public Library, and of course, The Gathering Place. Renée still benefits from being a WIN candidate today. Through WIN she can receive free tax preparation from the Denver Asset Building Coalition and can continue her education with ongoing career coaching and mentoring from a variety of WIN partners.
Now that Renée mans the front desk at the North Metro Rail Line project office, she’s “paying it forward”. Renée has developed a process by which most job seekers who enter the office get processed through the WIN program. Immediately upon their entrance, Renée asks them to sign into an applicant log, later used for reporting purposes. She goes on to tell them that we hire our workforce through WIN and provides them with WIN informational materials. But what’s creative about Renée’s approach is she created a sticker with Rosella Palacio’s information on it. This sticker is placed on the back of the RRP contact information card. This genius idea gives job seekers the right tool to begin their employment search as soon as they leave the office.
RRP has a goal of hiring 4% of their professional services and 8% of their crafts people through WIN. But with Renée on board, the team is hopeful they can surpass this goal. Renée has proven to be an outstanding WIN candidate but she’s an even better WIN enthusiast. Through WIN, Renée doesn’t just have a job, she’s creating a career for herself and she’s providing others with that same opportunity. We’re fortunate WIN sent her our way. It’s a WIN win for North Metro!