Success Stories

BEST-Robert RichardsonFrom the US Department of Labor: Robert Richardson’s story

Robert Richardson is a 55-year old African American single father who lives in Dorchester, MA. He worked a variety of jobs with temporary staffing agencies, most frequently in industrial cleaning. His most recent assignment was as an overnight cleaner at an hourly wage of $13.00. His hours fluctuated from week to week, and he had no benefits.

We met Robert when he applied for and was accepted to BEST’s housekeeping pre-apprenticeship class, the Introduction to Hospitality Training Program. This 150 hour, six-week, full time training program, trains participants for positions in hotel housekeeping departments. The related classroom instruction includes components such as hands-on skills training in a model hotel room, ergonomics, chemical safety and blood-borne pathogens, cross-cultural communication skills, customer service, professionalism, non-harassment, financial literacy, computer skills, interview skills, hotel branding and two weeks of job shadowing. Upon completion, participants work with career coaches on their job search. Graduates receive a Massachusetts Department of Labor Housekeeping Pre-Apprenticeship credential. An articulation agreement between Bunker Hill Community College and BEST awards 9 college credits to pre-apprentice graduates pursuing a hospitality certificate or associates degree upon completion of their prior learning assessment portfolio.

Robert graduated from BEST’s class in February 2017. He interviewed with 4 hotel partners at a job fair that we hosted. Each employer was interested in Robert’s candidacy & invited him to interview. His first interview was at the Omni Parker House. They offered him a full time position the very next day, and he began his housekeeping apprenticeship as a Housekeeping Houseperson on March 8, 2017, at $21.45/hour with a full benefit package. Robert graciously declined the other three interviews. When Robert completes his housekeeping apprenticeship, he will earn a nationally recognized certification from the Massachusetts Department of Labor and 3 additional credits at Bunker Hill Community College.

Robert said that he had always felt that working for such a historic and luxurious hotel downtown was never a possibility for him. He stated that he earns more now in one week than he did working several weeks before. He loves his job and his coworkers and envisions spending the rest of his working years there. He has also expressed that he would love to come to one of BEST’s classes to share his experience with our new students.

Jerome Mitchell is a young African American man, born and raised in Boston by his single father. Jerome graduated from a Boston high school and started working at TJ Maxx, earning close to $10/hour with no benefits. As part of his training at BEST, he spent a week job shadowing at the five-star InterContinental Hotel. After graduation, he was hired by the Fairmont Copley Hotel as a Public Area Attendant. His duties include walking the hotel dog, Katie Copley, and tending to the bees in the rooftop hives. The hotel loves his smile and work ethic. He is making more than his father ever has, enjoys paid vacations and full benefits, and walks with pride and a sense of accomplishment. “This program,” Jerome says, “helped me see the future. I can now see myself 20 years from now … and I am a hotel worker.”

Katrina Hines graduated from BEST on August 7, 2015. The following Monday, August 10, she met Lisa Brandi, Starwood Regional Talent Acquisition Manager at our Job Fair. On August 18, she was asked to apply for a housekeeping position at the Sheraton. She started working there in September, at the rate of $19.36/hour. For Katrina, moving from unemployed to employed changed her outlook on life: As a young African American woman growing up with different jobs like working at Save-a-Lot and other retail stores, I developed a frustrated and negative outlook. I used to be a negative thinker, full of self-doubt. Now I have the confidence and tools to do what I need.” Katrina says her job has impacted her daughter: “We’re doing a lot more things now and situations that used to stress me out don’t anymore. I can tell she notices. And she’s reaping the benefits.”

Margarida Jurgensen came to the United States in 2007 for a “better life for her kids”. She worked at a fast food chain for five years, earning $9.50/hour as an evening shift supervisor. We first met Margarida when she interviewed for the BEST Room Attendant Program. In her interview, she broke down in tears and told us, “This isn’t a better life.” Margarida completed BEST’s Room Attendant Training in 2012. She obtained a job at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where she makes $20.28/hour and her employer pays an additional $9.41/hour into her benefit plan. She is actively looking to buy a house with the $10,000 first-time home buying grant that is part of her benefits program. When asked about BEST’s training, Margarida said, “It was like going from zero to 100.”