The Project that Keeps on Giving

Peter Avellaneda is a junior at William Paterson University and a member of their Enactus chapter, an international non-profit organization. Their mission as a community of student, academic and business leaders is to use the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better more sustainable world. For the second year in a row, students from this group have developed projects to teach entrepreneurship to IHN families, adults and children alike.

When Peter, the group’s student leader, contacted us about ideas for 2015, their vision was to conduct job seeker workshops for IHN parents. Using a grant from Walmart, the 10-person team pulled together resources for workshops that focused on applying for jobs; the interviewing process and preparedness, such as researching the company and dressing professionally; resume and cover letter writing. Since a number of the students have attended training workshops at WPU’s Career Development Center, they were able to use it to train IHN parents.

One of the students, Rashawn Ramirez, began the first workshop by talking about his own experience with homelessness and why he was motivated to complete his college education and position himself for future success. This personal testimony made IHN parents feel comfortable about sharing their struggles with employment because as one parent put it, “he knows what we’re going through.” At IHN we heard only positive comments about the workshops. Moms and dads not only gained practical, hands-on information but felt more confident and inspired to keep applying for job openings. Peter hopes to check in with the families down the road to determine the success parents had in finding employment.

Although the students have completed their project for Enactus, they would like to continue working with IHN families as new ones rotate into our shelter program. Peter shared that in the end, it’s not about competing (for Enactus), but about making a difference for IHN families.