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 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 lock box, 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.