CINCINNATI (January 5, 2023) — Kurt has worked almost all his life, starting with a janitorial job when he was in junior high school.
“I wasn’t a college-type guy,” he says, sitting on a bench in Cincinnati’s Washington Park and looking younger than his 63 years. “My main objective was to get a decent job, work and retire.”
The Aiken High graduate’s work history includes about 20 years at collection agencies, contacting people about past-due bills even as he sometimes was just getting by. But for a father who was supporting a young daughter, getting by is quite different from thriving.
Kurt knows what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck. He knows what it’s like to be unsure whether he’ll have enough gas in his vehicle to make it back and forth to work.
He was inspired to change jobs by a man he knows who obtained a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and became a truck driver, which led to financial security. But Kurt could not pay the cost of truck-driving school. What’s more, the classes were full time, meaning Kurt wouldn’t have a paycheck for the four weeks of training.
Many people yearn for a better life, but too often, they face obstacles that prevent them from following their chosen path. Kurt was clear on his path, but he needed support to overcome the barriers that were keeping him from enrolling in CDL training and increasing his income. He needed a hand. He needed Project Lift.
United Way’s Project Lift initiative removes barriers and provides support for families who are committed to building a stronger financial foundation. By working with Project Lift sponsor organizations – which include social service agencies, faith-based communities and others – families can receive flexible, tailored, short-term assistance that puts them on a path to long-term success.
In Kurt’s case, Project Lift paid much of the cost of his CDL training and helped cover basic living expenses while he was in school.
“It’s still kind of hard to believe,” he says.
Kurt passed the CDL exam in July 2020. Not long after, a local waste-management company hired him to drive a tanker truck that removes waste at construction sites.
It’s challenging work, and he often puts in 12-hour days. His income, however, is almost double what it was when he worked for a collection agency.
“I feel really good about that,” Kurt says. So good, in fact, he’s now planning for something he once might not have thought possible: the purchase of a house.
“It was the game-changer,” he says of Project Lift. “It was the difference-maker. It was huge, because it helped me step out on faith and accomplish a goal.”
Learn more about Project Lift or apply for help at uwgc.org/projectlift.
Project Lift supports families on their journey to financial stability. Project Lift sponsors listen to each families’ challenges, find ways to leverage resources to assist them with short-term needs – rent, food, child care, utilities, transportation, etc. – and provide an ongoing support system as they work to increase their incomes and build long-term economic well-being.
United Way of Greater Cincinnati is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization [Tax ID: 31-0537502]. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.