December 19, 2014

Holiday Giving

Javonte Burnett thought he was just going to Auto Truck Group’s holiday party. Instead, it turned out to be a very special day for him. Javonte received a donated car for all his hard work.

“Despite the adversity that he’s gone through in his life, it’s really empowering and really inspiring to see him earn a car,” said Kathy Griffin, Javonte’s Case Manager at 360 Youth Services.

It was an overwhelming feeling for the 20-year-old, knowing that a chapter in his life was finally over but one he’ll never forget.

Javonte’s home was destroyed in a house fire early this year, damaging everything he owned and displacing his family.

“I was devastated, and my only safety blanket was the Luecks, that was my High School Football Coach, Track Coach he was pretty much like a father to me and I contacted him and he let me stay there for a few weeks to a month,” said Javonte Burnett, Car Recipient.

During his stay with the Luecks, they recommended he check out 360 Youth Services Transitional Housing, an organization that serves homeless youth between the ages of 18-24, which was a perfect fit for Javonte.

“When I first got to 360 I didn’t really know what my path was going to be, whether it was going to go to school, whether I was going to get a job,” said Burnett.

Fortunately, 360 connected him with workNet DuPage Career Center, which brings job seekers and employers together.

“This is you’re A.P. student who was the captain of his wrestling, football, track team and things just happened in his life where it kind of domino affected and he ended up at our front door,” said Nina Seperghan, Javonte’s Youth Career Counselor for workNet DuPage.

He was placed in workNet DuPage’s “Make Your Way Program,” which guides young adults into manufacturing careers.

“He’s probably the most attentive kid in our class day in and day out and was ready even though he worked third shift. We had ten minute breaks in between three hour class and he took a nap in the ten minutes, so that he could catch up on his sleep, because he’d work until the morning, take a half hour nap and then come to our class every single day,” said Seperghan.

Shortly after, he completed the four week curriculum at the career center and was placed at a six week paid internship at Auto Truck Group in Bartlett.

But since Javonte had no car to get him from Naperville to Bartlett everyday, he thought this would be a missed opportunity. And that’s when the Human Resources Manager, Pam Bodzioch stepped in.

“Pam she actually got me a ride to work every single day with my buddy Josh, he lives and passes my house every single day so that worked extremely in my favor,” said Burnett.

To show his gratitude, Javonte worked as hard as he possibly could. And when the six-week internship was coming to a close, Pam knew that she wanted Javonte to stay for the long haul.

She teamed up with Auto Truck Group’s parent company, the Holman Automotive Group and Naperville Cares, an organization that helps people struggling financially, and gave him the gift that brought him to tears.

“It’s great you know, living in the suburbs it’s not like the city with the public transportation, so just to have that it’s crazy,” said Burnett.

And for the High School Football Coach who was first to open his home to Javonte, it was a proud moment for him to see his life turn around.

“He never really had the advantages most kids had living in the suburbs, he really had to struggle for everything and he never really asked anyone for help. People offered him help and he accepted graciously and then tried to make himself better, so it makes him very special in that regard because he understands where he’s been and he has a good idea with where he’s going,” said Dennis Lueck.

At the end of Javonte’s six week internship, Auto Truck Group welcomed him to the family, offering him full time employment.


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