The Last Straw, an Interview with Dana Caldwell


Dana Caldwell is a member of our Employment Program. We sat down to discuss her reasons for joining StepUp Ministry, her new job, and what she has planned next.

LB: Dana, thank you for meeting with me today. Can you share what brought you to StepUp Ministry?

DC: I didn’t have any faith in finding a career because of my past (criminal background). I lost the faith, I lost hope, I lost everything. I really did. You know, I went to school. I had gotten so much education. But I was still getting turned away from everywhere. I would get the job but when the background check would come back that would be the end of that. Hospitals, good nursing homes would hire me and then let me go. But then one day I talked to the lady at Wake County Human Services and she sent me to StepUp.

LB: We are so thankful you came!! So that Monday of Jobs Week, do you remember what your word was to describe how you were feeling?

DC: I was scared and nervous. I just didn’t have any hope.

LB: I remember meeting you, and I wouldn’t have known any of that if you hadn’t shared it with us.

DC: And that’s what broke me down and opened me up, when I had to share. I had never shared it with anyone. Asking for help was one of the biggest things I ever had to do because I am used to having to do it on my own, and it was never a problem until now. I felt like I was fighting the kids because of the divorce, fighting the jobs for a chance, fighting myself the most not to give up. StepUp Ministry was my last straw. I didn’t know where else to turn or what else to do because so many doors had been closed in my face.

LB: So now you have the job at Capital Area Transit through your partnership with StepUp Ministry. It’s funny, I remember when you first graduated you applied for their bus driver position but didn’t get it because you didn’t have your CDL’s.

DC: Yes. Then I got a call from the Assistant Human Resources Manager and she said that I could apply for the Utility Maintenance position. I saw you at Wake County Human Services when I was there filling out the application for a different job and you got on me to complete the CAT application right away.

LB: Then to have received the email saying they decided to hire someone else. I know that must have been tough.

DC: It really was. But the next day I called them to follow up and see what I could have done better in the interview so that I would do better the next time I applied for a job. And they told me they had made a mistake, I was their top candidate and they offered me the job!!!

LB: That is so amazing!!

DC: Yes!! So now I am working on getting my CDL permit and learning everything I can. Then in 6 months I will be applying for the bus driver position.

LB: You just keep moving forward. What was your biggest takeaway from this?

DC: Before coming to StepUp Ministry, I would go into so much details about my background in the interview, or I wouldn’t say anything at all. When I came through the Jobs Week, I really learned a lot about what to do in the interview in just one week. That and the support you guys kept giving me helped me to not give up on myself.

LB: Dana, there was never a doubt in anyone’s mind that you were going to accomplish every goal you had set for yourself. Thank you so much for letting us walk with you and for sharing your story today.


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