It’s hard to believe there was ever a time when LaShafphia “Shay” Felder was not smiling. Her sunny disposition and willingness to learn and improve are infectious. At 21, Felder became a young mother, wife and college graduate. She got her Licensed Practical Nurse and Phlebotomy certification in Washington D.C. and enjoyed 19 successful years in the medical industry.
But hardship found Felder on several occasions throughout her life. She and her husband got a divorce, she became a single mother and she experienced the loss of her son. Feeling overwhelmed and on the verge of nervous breakdown, Felder decided to relocate to Atlanta.
“When I first came to Atlanta I was living with my friends and family cramped up in a two-bedroom apartment,” she says. “It was too hectic to be a single mom, so I thought long and hard about what I could do to meet the logistics of being a mom and the sole financial provider.”
Living in a new city with limited funds for childcare, Felder was unable to meet the scheduling demands of the medical field. As she embarked on a new career she began conducting job searches at the South DeKalb Goodwill Career Center. There she learned about and later enrolled in the New Choices Program, which supports women in highway construction.
New Choices gave Felder hands-on training and skills that prepared her for her job with the Department of Transportation working on state and federal roadways. When asked about her favorite season to work on the roads, Felder grinned. “Every season is my favorite season because I love to learn,” she says.
Her willingness to learn was an asset during her Skills Training at the South DeKalb Career Center. With guidance from Skills Trainer Peter Arthur, Felder learned many different elements of the maintenance world. “I learned flagging, CPR and carpentry, light plumbing and electrical wiring,” she says. “I knew nothing about tools at first, so for me it was definitely challenging.” Though her Goodwill training is complete, she continues to seek new skills and certifications to add to her portfolio.
Felder has been endorsed to drive water and hazmat trucks and she is working toward her Class A license. She also qualified for Beyond Jobs – a program for single mothers – where she received support for her childcare and transportation needs. She is now confident in her new career path and looking to move up in the ranks.
“The Goodwill program is awesome because it gives you what you need to start up,” Felder says. “If you have a desire to improve yourself then Goodwill is there for you.”