02/20/2013 01:18 pm ET Updated Apr 22, 2013

Making a Difference - Michele Knox

My name is Michele Knox, and I am honored to be employed as a Work Readiness Instructor at The HOPE Program.

When I was a freshman in high school I wanted to be a teacher, but life and other interests took me down other career paths. However, I always found a way to teach, whether it was volunteering to teach financial literacy seminars, stepping in as a "substitute teacher" for a friend's child who was being home-schooled, or helping friends with solve math problems over the phone.

For most of the last decade I worked as a mortgage loan officer for major US banks. Most of the time the pay was good, but the work was not fulfilling. However, I found that I really enjoyed facilitating workshops teaching first-time homebuyers how to purchase a home or teaching children and adults the value of understanding credit and budgeting. I came to realize that my purpose in life is to educate others.

Last year a friend of mine reached out to me to tell me about an available position at The HOPE Program. I applied for the Work Readiness Instructor position and got the job! And what an awesome job it is!

I teach work readiness and life skills to adults who were either formerly incarcerated, in drug/alcohol treatment centers, or just having a difficult time finding and retaining employment in these challenging times. Our goal is to provide our clients with current skills and tools to help give them an advantage when applying for a job. We help our students identify short- and long-term job goals, teach them how to write a professional résumé and cover letter, and help them improve their interviewing and networking skills. We also work with our students to help them improve their interpersonal skills and enhance their self-esteem. After our clients have completed 75% of their classroom time, they begin work at internships where they receive relevant, up-to-date work experience.

My students have made a lasting impression on me. I strive to become a better instructor with each class, taking what I have taught and what I have learned and melding them together to make me a better instructor. We learn by growing together!

I am fortunate to work with an amazing group of professionals who are focused on helping our clients succeed. From the friendliness of both our Receptionist and Intake Manager; from the dedicated Work Readiness Team to the determined Employment & Retention Department; from our sympathetic Counseling & Psychological Services division to our "back office" staff, from our caring Facilities Coordinator straight up to our Deputy and Executive Directors, we at The HOPE Program are committed to effecting positive change in our community, one client at a time.

We have the opportunity to make a difference in our clients' lives, and our clients truly make a difference in our lives!