Sitting in the Advantage Services office, 33-year-old Naby Camara can’t seem to stop smiling. He just finished work, still in the uniform he received a year ago, pocketing the keys to the car he was finally able to buy a few months ago. When asked how things are going, he says without hesitation, “Everything is going great!”
Naby is a resident of Westminster Place Apartments, a 99-unit family housing community in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Westminster Place is one of twelve CommonBond sites to offer integrated employment, financial, and income support services for its residents.
Westminster residents also have access to youth programming and an on-site social worker.
When asked about what initially brought him to the Advantage Services office, Naby describes a very different time in his life. He was without a job, struggling with his rent and utility bills, and looking for ways to build up his momentum again after the end of his previous job.
With the support of staff at Westminster, Naby focused on securing employment and getting connected with key income supports to help make ends meet. He set up a payment plans for his utilities, got access to winter clothes, prepared for his citizenship test, and applied for energy assistance and rent assistance so he could stay in his home.
With some of the financial pressure relieved, Naby worked with his CommonBond employment and financial coach to find a place for himself in the workforce. He and his coach created an updated resume and cover letter, and worked on job search techniques. In the meantime, he started taking Adult Basic Education classes with a local provider to improve his English and professional skills.
In March of 2013, Naby came into the Advantage Services office with good news - he had been offered a part-time position with a well-known facility management company. His coach assisted him with his new hire paperwork, and afterward, followed up at regular intervals to support him in retaining and thriving in his new position. Then, with eight months of experience under his belt, Naby moved up to a full-time, benefits-earning Environmental Service Specialist position, continuing to work at his part-time job in the evenings. Naby now has a full schedule during the week, and has received positive feedback from both of his employers.
Naby speaks optimistically and enthusiastically about his short- and long-term goals, which include financial stability, taking his son to visit his grandmother in Naby’s home country of Guinea, and eventually buying a house of his own. Now that he has a steady, livable income and has started taking positive action with his finances, he is closer to seeing those goals become a reality. According to Naby, “CommonBond has helped me a lot. I wish everybody would know what I’m feeling.”