Phoenix Residents Find Careers With Help From ‘SOAR’

With the assistance of one Phoenix program, people don’t have to experience the roller coaster struggles of life on their own. 

“It’s resources that are available that we didn’t know about,” said LaBaron Simpson, Jr. “I didn’t know that there were cheat codes out here and people willing to help.”

Simpson is a participant in Arizona At Work’s SOAR program .

“Job seekers don’t get ready. They stay ready,” said SOAR Work Readiness Instructor Neva Smith.

She is an instructor in the week-long course that is free and tailored to each student.

“SOAR is geared for people who want to change their life through work,” Smith went on to explain. “People who want to upgrade your skills. You could be someone with a degree, lose your job and because the climate of the workforce has changed – need a skills upgrade.”

Smith has seen people of all ages in the course, ranging from teenagers to senior citizens and everything in between.

“A single word can give a person hope,” Smith explained. “Just letting a person know that you believe in them and helping them find their gold nuggets within them gives value to the person.” 

For Simpson, the course has provided him with a clear vision for his life, along with the confidence to search for a career as opposed to just a job. His dream was to earn a truck driver license or become a barber.

“… Which is mainly what I think I’m going to go with,” Simpson said.

Not only does SOAR provide the necessary job training, it also supplies people with valuable career connections.

Former student Lana Cantrell participated in the program in 2013 and has since began an apprentice program, Barber Intelligence.

“I had an idea,” Cantrell described. “My heart is really big… I created a program that everyone who wants to be a part of the profession can apply and be trained and get paid training.”

Cantrell now supplies training to those looking for a fresh start through the creation of fresh cuts for others. She hopes to keep using her business as a way to give back through free haircuts for veterans and offering the proper training for those that are interested.