September 2021 Newsletter: Jeremiah Thompson on the track to success
18-year-old Jeremiah Thompson was afloat. He was a high school dropout with no job, no future on the horizon, and no place to go. “I didn’t know what to do,” he said, “and I really needed help!”
Jeremiah’s sister reached out to Independent Living Specialist Jen Hawkinson from the Glendive branch of LIFTT, hoping she could get Jeremiah back on track. Little did Jeremiah know that Hawkinson was a powerhouse of ideas and a relentless advocate. “Jen is super persistent, “said Jeremiah, “she was on me 24/7, no slacking’.”
Jen met with Jeremiah and his family to discuss options that would help him obtain his high school diploma which included enrolling in the High School Equivalency Test (HISET) offered by both the Dawson Community College in Glendive, and the Job Corps program in Anaconda.
Jeremiah was drawn to Job Corps because it included occupational training courses and the High School Equivalency Test. Jen obtained the application papers from a Job Corps recruiter and helped Jeremiah fill them out. Unfortunately, there was a snag. Jeremiah was missing essential documents including his birth certificate, social security card, and school transcripts. He had no idea where they were, and neither did his family, but that didn’t stop Jen.
Undaunted, she told him to contact Action for Eastern Montana, a nonprofit organization committed to promoting education. Jeremiah had been enrolled at Action as a child and was able to retrieve the necessary government forms. She assisted him in getting a replacement for a lost Social Security card. Jen then invoked the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which provides public access to all federal agency records, allowing Jeremiah to take possession of his elementary and high school transcripts.
Once everything was in place, he submitted the Job Corps application and, shortly afterward, was accepted into the program. Despite the successful outcome, Jen wasn’t finished yet. She had recognized that Jeremiah’s’ disorganization was a barrier to his future and, through guidance and providing him with a personal lockbox, Jeremiah can now locate his important documents. “It is discouraging to keep losing things and be so disorganized.” he said, “but thanks to LIFTT and Jen, now I know where everything is!”
Today, Jeremiah’s future is bright. He owns a car and recently landed a maintenance job. He is considering returning to Job Corps at some point, but right now, Jeremiah is attending high school in Dickinson, North Dakota, working for his dad and keeping his life on track.
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LIFTT to open office in Glendive
Living Independently for Today & Tomorrow (LIFTT) is pleased to announce that it has opened a new office in Glendive, in order to accommodate the growing need for independent living services in the eastern portion of the agency’s 18 county service area.
The Glendive office will be located at 100 ½ South Merrill Street Unit #12 and can be reached via phone at (406) 606-1766 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
“The decision to reestablish an office presence in Glendive is a logical step in our growth strategy,” said LIFTT executive director Carlos Ramalho. “Eastern Montana has a diverse population in need of independent living services that recognize and celebrate the uniqueness and diversity of the region.”
To begin with the office will be staffed by one independent living specialist, Jen Hawkinson who will act as LIFTT’s front line presence in eastern Montana communities providing the region’s disability community with programs and services in several core areas including: Information and Referral, Advocacy, Peer Support, Skills Training, Youth Transition, and Institutional Transitions. Hawkinson has many years of experience in the human service field and has long been a part of the Glendive community.
Ramalho says that the hiring of Hawkinson and the opening of the Glendive office are just the beginning of LIFTT’s plans for offering independent living services in the region. “LIFTT hopes to further expand its staffing and professional capabilities as well as to establish partnerships with schools, human service agencies and other community institutions that will allow us to further increase our ability to provide services to consumers in the counties we are charged to serve.”