From Vulnerable to Viable: A Survivors Journey to Meaningful Employment

Jane’s Story

Jane’s father left when she was five, leaving a deep hole in her heart that ignited a lifelong quest to find true love. Someone who would care, protect, and praise her. The monsters of this world are many, but a strong man would battle them for her just like any father would. Right?

At fifteen, Jane crossed paths with an older man who promised her a bright future. But this relationship only led to a long, dark path through the hell of this world. Her body and mind would be battered and broken in the decades of horrific abuse that followed. Enough was enough – she called the hotline for help and rescue. Jane finally had a way out, but she didn’t know what to expect because the dark path she was on was all that she knew. The fear was great, yet her desire for a better future was even greater. 

With arms wide open, she was brought into a residential program that provided comprehensive support services. Jane would have two years of safe and stable shelter, healthcare services, trauma-informed mental health services, substance abuse recovery, and case management. Compassionate licensed professionals supported Jane towards a strong path for her future with healing and hope to ensure her long-term independence. Her body and mind were finally healing day after day in the security that she found, she was finally recovering.

Sometimes the days were long and slow, yet the 24 months of safety and security went by quickly. Fear started to set in. The reality of the end of the residential program and all the support would go away. How can she support herself on her own? Where would she go and what would she do? Was all the work she put into healing all for nothing? Will she just repeat the cycle all over again? Jane overheard a fellow survivor say, “I’m terrified to leave here.” She knew the horror stories of those who left the residential program just to go back to life on the streets or suffer for years in poverty. The only way Jane knew how to provide for herself was through illegal activity.  How would she find legal and safe ways to provide for herself before her time in the program is up? Who could help her start to put the pieces together for a brighter and successful future? Jane’s case manager called Viable for help.

The Power of Partnerships

When you help support Viable, you support collaboration with partner agencies that build on the progress made by the agencies and the survivors they serve. Unfortunately, agency leaders and staff can feel like they are just sending people out to drown after the years of support they provide are over. Jane’s time at the residential program was the first of many steps to healing. Ultimately, Jane has to develop a way to support herself after she leaves the program. This in-between phase is sometimes referred to as “transition.” Many challenges await her in this phase and although she may no longer be in active abuse or exploitation, she is still vulnerable. 

While Jane’s experience of healing and “graduating” from the residential program is vital in her journey, she is still susceptible to the effects of poverty she will likely face once out on her own. Perpetrators and abusers who recognize her vulnerability are waiting to offer her the “opportunity” and “support” she knows she needs. This means safe and secure housing, transportation, meaningful employment and a healthy community of support are critical in her transition phase. Viable collaborates with agencies who address client needs in housing and transportation. Your support of Viable directly helps her connect to opportunities for meaningful employment and a healthy community.

Once she was accepted into the program she was connected with Viable’s career development team. Together they were able to improve her professional development deficiencies, such as communication, taking constructive input and time management. This skill-building coupled with bringing targeted employment opportunities within her reach are what we call “bridging the gap” for survivors like Jane to move forward in life after the clinical phase of her healing journey is complete.

The Role of Community Volunteers

Jane’s journey continues with the help of community volunteers. Another way Viable helps survivors is by connecting them to volunteers that help them broaden their additional skill sets in professional development. For Jane, personal finance was a skill she knew she needed help with. Because of her trauma she would fill the voids in her heart by compulsively shopping. This led to high credit card debt and a lack of understanding of personal budgeting. Once we were aware this was an issue for Jane we connected her to a vetted and trauma-aware personal finance professional who volunteers their time with Viable. The volunteer was then able to help her get organized and create a practical budget she could follow each day.

Viable’s social and emotional specialists also help her find healthy coping tools to stop her compulsive shopping. With this, Jane was finally free from the emotional spending that would undermine her financial strength and her overall efforts to rebuild her life. Using the tools she learned, she eventually paid off her credit card debt and started building her savings.

Marketplace Exposure with Business Partner Support

Jane needed vision as she continued rebuilding her life. Jane had a passion for helping others in recovery and working with children with autism but she didn’t know where to get started. Following Viable’s professional development training, Jane was equipped with knowledge and confidence to meet with business leaders and employers in the marketplace who were introduced by Viable. Viable’s business partners provide opportunity to take part in company tours, informational meetings, and potential job shadowings. This creates positive and healthy exposure to new ideas and opportunities that help form the expanded vision she needed. 

Keeping in mind Jane’s passion for helping those in recovery and children with autism, Viable coordinated a tour for her at a center that works with autistic children, followed by an informational meeting at a local recovery center. Jane was always surrounded by professionals during her clinical treatment, but she had never been in a professional setting, as a professional, to see how professionals interacted, how they spoke or what their work day looked like. Through this process her view of “business” changed. She was even surprised by one boss that knew all the employees names and stopped occasionally to ask questions about their family or friends. Jane was able to experience a healthy community and use her confidence and training to take that important step toward actual employment. 

Finally, Meaningful Employment

Great employers are critical to survivor success. For Jane, the tour at the recovery center led to a job offer that included Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) certifications that were paid for by the employer (not another social program or charity). This set her up for greater success in a safe and healthy work environment where she would naturally find a community of support. Although she was nervous, she knew she had the support of partners that included her aftercare agency, Viable, community volunteer contacts, a reliable employer and the healthy natural community of support she builds as she meets new people.

Here’s what Jane had to say about her success during Viable’s regular follow up with her: 

“Thanks so much! I am so excited for this opportunity and it’s EVERYTHING I have wanted. Thank you so much for all the work you have put in to help me get to this point.”

“I know what a blessing thank y’all so much for yet another opportunity to propel my future in the right direction I could not be more grateful!!!” 

“I am really enjoying working on this side of recovery and getting to be home with my family. Much less stressful! My old job is laying people off so I am very grateful I made this choice.” 

“Good morning. Everything is going really well including my job. My coworkers are very helpful and friendly. I am truly blessed to have angels like you guys who have helped me find where I belong.” 

Jane is truly a remarkable individual and her story is just as profound. Her story couldn’t have happened without everyone working together, but most importantly it wouldn’t have happened without her decision to rebuild her life and her hard work. We hope you enjoyed Jane’s story and we can’t wait to tell you more stories like hers.

As you can see, your ongoing support of Viable is vital. Please consider continued and expanded support of remarkable survivors by volunteering and connecting us with trusted employers who need workers and have proven to invest in their employees. Your financial support is also welcomed to scholarship financial freedom for remarkable survivors as they pursue meaningful employment and healthy community.



Reese Parrott: Director of Career Development

Reese is a seasoned professional in career development, with experience spanning entry-level to C-level roles across a wide variety of industries. She passionately advocates that employees are a company’s greatest asset and champions positive culture change by prioritizing the hiring of individuals who bring more than what’s listed in job descriptions. Reese excels in creating efficient processes, driving performance improvements, and establishing corporate talent acquisition divisions from the ground up. Her life’s work centers around helping others. She found her true calling at Viable Inc, where she guides trauma survivors to discover meaningful work and independence. Reese’s journey is one of empowerment, transformation, and a relentless commitment to the growth of individuals and organizations alike.