In 1988, a new employment and training program (GAIN) was started for welfare recipients. I got a job as an Employment and Training Worker with Monterey County DSS. I worked in GAIN for eight years and was quickly promoted to a Job Club leader and then a supervisor. I transferred to Santa Cruz County when a Program Manager position opened up in GAIN.
It was interesting to compare Santa Cruz and Monterey counties to see how they interacted with the community. In Monterey, programs operated in their independent silos. Monterey was the main funder to a lot of organizations. They called the shots and dictated a lot of the policy. Santa Cruz was similar to Nevada County in that they both valued collaboration. In Santa Cruz, administrators from the county, education, and community agencies would meet monthly to discuss how they would coordinate programs and not compete for money. It built trust among the partners and allowed for wonderful collaboration. Understanding this difference in philosophy was a really good learning experience for me.
When I was attending the community college in Salinas, I met my husband Tom and we married 8 years later. When our first daughter was born we decided to move to Santa Cruz. Our second daughter was born when I was still working for Monterey County. My daily commute to Salinas stopped when I got a program manager position with Santa Cruz County. I was finally working and living in the same community. This made a huge different because when I lived in one place and worked in another, my two worlds never really connected. I never really knew the community where I lived since most of my day was spent in my working community and commuting.
I left Santa Cruz County and went to work for Cabrillo College. I was responsible for coordinating programs to teach people English in a vocational setting. We created a very successful program. A federal research program (MDRC) selected our program for an evaluation and they really liked our innovative approach. One of the things we were trying to do was come up with programs with equitable treatment. With Welfare Reform, all recipients had five years to transition from welfare to work. If someone did not speak English or if someone had a Master’s, they both had five years. We wanted to come up with some creative programs to help limited English proficient clients maximize their five years. We developed an integrated curriculum so students could learn job skills and English at the same time. This was an intense collaborative effort between the County, college, adult schools, ROP and the community.
I worked as a consultant for Cabrillo College for 5 years. My flexible work schedule enabled me to work mostly from home and I spent a lot more time with my family. I was able to do a lot of my reports, project evaluations, and program coordination at night. I was also able to travel to Salinas to help take care of my in-laws who both had chronic illnesses and were periodically hospitalized. Tragedy hit my family when first my father-in-law died in 2001 and then my mother-in-law in 2003. Losing both of these loving people in such a short time was devastating to my family.
In 2005, my husband’s place of employment closed due to the declining demand for commercial printing. He was the pre-press operations manager for a big commercial press. We decided this was the time to do something different. We had inherited some money, sold our house, and decided to relocate to Nevada County. We had visited Nevada County for the Draft Horse Classic and loved it. We wanted to live in a small town with distinct seasons.Download Article 1K Club