A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

SER in Houston: An 800% Return on Investment [VIDEO]

Staff and supporters of SER - Jobs for Progress gathered at the Houstonian this past Sunday night to celebrate the organization's 48th anniversary.  Dignitaries including Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee, Representative Al Green, and others looked on as famed immigration attorney Charles Foster and Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman were honored during the gala.

Organizers said the event raised just over $160,000 for the group that provides education, training, and employment services that empower individuals, businesses, and communities.  It's an investment that produces an 800% return in the local economy, organizers said.

Justice Guzman, a SER alumnus and the first Latina to be elected statewide in Texas, told the crowd that there's simply no way she'd be where she is today without having received job training from the group.  Guzman pointed out that her life was changed “as a kid from Houston's East End”.  She said SER was able to help her get her first job working for the AFL-CIO.  “See, not all Republicans are anti-union,” she said with a smile.  “That was my first exposure to women in a professional setting.  And it was my first exposure to women who were running the show.  From that experience, I took with me the notion that there's a whole world out there that I didn't even know about in my East End community.”

SER Executive Director Nory Angel said Justice Guzman's story is a great reminder of the kind of good that can come of investing in a young person who otherwise might have been overlooked in her community.  “We wonder why people settle for so little in their lives,” she said.  At SER, they're committed to stamping out the thought that there are just some people who are lost causes.  She said there's room for success even for those who face some of life's toughest challenges.  “Even after they serve 17 years of their 38 years on this planet in prison.  Even after they have their first child as a teenager and drop out of high school.  Even after they return from Iraq or Afghanistan with a serious injury.  Even then,” Angel said.

Angel said that at a recent graduation ceremony, a man was receiving his welding certificate when his 5-year-old daughter yelled out with pride “That's my daddy!”

By any measure, the fundraiser on Sunday night was a success, but the need for resources is ongoing.  After all, there's never a shortage of people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard for that second chance and a new life.  You can donate to SER on their website.

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