CalWorks Guides Clients Along a Path to Employment in Santa Clara County

By Dave Cortese
Santa Clara County Supervisor, District Three

As a Santa Clara County Supervisor for nearly seven years, I know that our Safety Net programs work. We help the neediest with medical care, housing, food and other crucial necessities of life. But we also help people to help themselves. The county offers programs that provide training and counseling that can move clients toward employment and a chance to start their lives over.

CalWORKS is one of these. The program provides clients with the tools, training and skills that prepare them for work. Besides training, clients receive such support services as child care, counseling, transportation, books and materials for school. Local employers become CalWORKS partners, stepping up to provide jobs when clients are ready.

But it’s better to put a face to the program in telling the real story. At the 23rd annual CalWORKS Achievement Awards Ceremony, I and other supervisors recognized outstanding participants who overcame enormous challenges with courage, tenacity and persistence.

Award recipient Jessica Sanchez Gonzales ran away at age 13, and by age 18 was married with her first daughter. After a few years, her marriage fell apart and she found herself as a single mom of two daughters with no income. She returned to the workforce, but without a diploma, she had to settle for low-wage jobs. She knew that was not the life she wanted for her and her children. That’s when she turned to CalWORKS for help.

Jessica enrolled in a vocational school and earned an associate degree in paralegal studies. While working as a paralegal at Elise Mitchell Law Offices, she is continuing her studies at San Jose State University and has her sights on corporate law.

Jessica’s story is just one of many that start with a program offered by Santa Clara County. And hearing her story reminds me of why my job as a supervisor is so rewarding.

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