Strangers on the Train - a YJC Story

Youth Job Center staff commute to Evanston and our satellite offices from all across the city and surrounding suburbs, coming from as far south as Auburn Gresham, as far west as Berkeley, and as far north as Gurnee, utilizing cars, trains, motorcycles, and even bikes.

On Monday July 29th, YJC's staff member M Nelsen had a chance encounter on the Red Line while wearing their YJC polo.

Stranger: How long have you worked at Youth Job Center?

M: Just over a year.

Stranger: I have my job because of you all, I came to YJC when I was 16.

M: What do you do?

Stranger (smiling a big smile): I'm a DSP (direct service provider). You all helped me get an internship, and I’ve been working since then. For a while I worked in management at a couple restaurants, but I didn’t like to as much, so I went back to being a DSP, I like healthcare better.

M: Wow, have you considered doing more training? Like getting a CNA?

Stranger (another big smile): Its funny you ask that, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, it seems like places are always hiring for CNAs, so I was thinking it might be helpful.

M: Yeah definitely, you can always find a CNA job. If you’re really interested, you should come in and see me sometime, we have a program we could support you to get into a training and get it paid for, how old are you now?

Stranger: I’m 23 now, yeah the thing with the CNA classes is they’re expensive, I didn’t know how I could afford it.

M: You still qualify for our programs; we can definitely help you get into a CNA training if you’re interested. Actually, now is a good time, my colleague Rose is putting together a CNA cohort, so a group of young people doing the CNA course together. You all could support each other, study together, all that. If you’re interested, you can also do a longer program that would combine phlebotomy & CNA.

Stranger: Phlebotomy, really?! (Biggest smile yet) I’ve been really wanting to do that. I had to have blood drawn and the girl who did it really messed up, and I was thinking, I could do better ya know? It’s really cool you mentioned that.

M: It’s a good career path, do you think you could come in and see me this week? You can meet my colleague Rose who is setting up the CNA cohort and we all can talk about the process. I know I don’t have many appointments Thursday, you could drop in then.

Stranger: Yeah I’ll do that! Hey, do you all still do the Work Readiness Training?

M: Yep, we have one next week actually.

Stranger: I have a friend who is 22 and struggling, could he do the training? I did that years ago, and now I do all my friend’s resumes. I think it could really help him.

M: Definitely! I’d be happy to meet with him. (M gives the stranger their card), I’m the one who helps people get started in our programs, so he just needs to make an appointment with me and we can go from there.

Stranger: Cool… cool! I’ll come see you on Thursday. I can’t believe you mentioned the phlebotomy, I’d love to do that.

M, noticing that the train is almost to their stop, stands up, smiles, and offers their hand: I’m excited to talk to you more Thursday.

Stranger (Another big smile): I’ll be there.

Our impact as an agency and as individuals is everywhere. Not just in the youth we have served or will serve, but in ourselves. Furthermore, the lives we impact have a ripple effect, changing the lives of not just the clients we serve, but the lives of friends, families, colleagues, and even strangers.