Editor’s note: As we gather to spend the day with family and friends and give thanks for our bounty we wanted to share the story of one young lady and what she is giving thanks for this year.

Jasmyra Velez, 23, participated in the Capital Workforce Partners Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program this summer. The program was funded this year by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Keep reading Jasmyra’s story of hope and share your own story in the comment section below.

A few weeks before I heard of the program (The Capital Workforce Partners Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program – This year was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and open to out-school youths, 16-24 in need) I had no job, I was about 6 months pregnant, and had a 6 year old daughter. I had lost my last job due to morning sickness exceeding past the 3 month line to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed. I was even given a 1 month leave of absence with pay to see if I would get better, which I didn’t and eventually I had to be replaced. I applied for cash assistance and was told I didn’t have any more extensions left, despite my desperate situation. Of course, in the meantime, I had rent to pay, make car payments, pay for daycare, and had no money for it all. Not to mention now that I was more than half way through my pregnancy and was already showing. What were the odds I would be considered for any job?

When I heard of the summer program and found out that I qualified I felt like it was an answer to my prayers. It was perfect. I would be trained on work skills, I would be working somewhere I could gain experience from and I would have a source of income to hold me off for a while. The job site I was put into was the CTWorks One-Stop Career Center in New Britain. I was a little disappointed for I wanted to be placed somewhere I would have a chance at becoming a permanent employee after the birth of my child. While at my job site I went to work everyday without missing not even one day. I went in 30 minutes early and left 30 minutes later than what was expected. I tried to learn as much as I could, I did my job and even more. In the middle of my time there, an employee there was given another higher position at the Hartford office. So, there now was an open position that required Spanish speaking. Which of course with my luck I was qualified for and the perfect person for it, since I was already doing it as a temp worker through the summer program. The only thing was I was now about 7 1/2 months pregnant.

I decided to apply for the position anyway. I put in my resume, and was given the interview almost 2 weeks later. I thought they were just being nice. But, it turned out my hard work paid off, for I was given the position. And to even be considered despite my situation, I knew I did a good job. I was hired as a full-time employee as a Core Services Specialist for the Career Center located at CTWorks. They even gave me a month off for maternity leave and had hired someone for those few weeks just for me.

So, I just want people out there to know that anything is possible. And that the program does help people and does makes a big difference. I think it was the best thing Obama invested in. I think there should be more programs just like this one every year and maybe eventually one for all year long. The young need to have job readiness skills to enter the workforce, especially in this economy. It’s hard to find a job with experience and skills let alone with no skills being a new job seeker and being young.

I hope my story helps and is interested enough to be considered and retold.