Two years ago, Senait, a young woman from Ethiopia, picked up her life and moved to the United States. When she first arrived in the city, she held two jobs, working as a cashier for both Dunkin Donuts and 7-Eleven, while also taking an English class at her local community college. 

Unfortunately, Senait’s employers would only offer her late-night, part-time hours at her jobs. In addition to being underemployed, she wasn’t earning enough for a living wage, making it difficult for her to provide for herself or plan for the future. 

To secure a quality, well-paid job, Senait sought help from the Chinese Mutual Aid Association (CMAA), a United Way of Metro Chicago partner that offers a wide range of services to low-income immigrants and refugees in our region. 

Like most United Way partners, CMAA takes a “whole person” approach to serving our neighbors, providing education, employment, immigration and other services to address individuals’ and families’ varying and interconnected needs. We know that when families are supported and their basic needs are met, they can contribute to their community in positive ways. 

During her time in CMAA’s employment program, Senait learned valuable interviewing and job skills. CMMA also referred her to employers who were hiring and let her use their computer lab to apply for jobs. 

It didn’t take long for Senait to secure a quality position that allowed her to pursue her dreams. CMAA even helped her complete the hiring paperwork, too. 

Today, Senait’s working full-time at a luxury hotel, where she’s increased her hourly wages by 72 percent! With this additional income, she’s been able to finish another ESL class, which will put her career in a position to keep growing. 

You can support workforce programs like CMAA’s when you attend IGNITE, Young Leaders United’s mid-winter party. All ticket sales will help connect our neighbors like Senait to quality careers and job training. Get your tickets here!