Help for Katrina Victim Brings Rewards

Banks dropped out of high school in her senior year to care for her baby, but is now getting her GED. This will pave the way for her to enroll in community college to begin a course of study on the road to becoming a nursing assistant or a pharmacy tech.

Her son, Michael, who turns 5 in May, lives temporarily with his grandma in Alabama. He's happily settled in a great pre-kindergarten and he visits his mom often. Banks misses him and longs for the day he'll move in with her, but for now she knows that it's important to pursue an education and a career that will benefit them both long term. There's been only one bump: I've been paying Banks' cell phone bill and when I got the first one, I freaked. That girl talked more in one month than I do on mine in a year. Miss Talker vows to cut back.

Banks' story is a reminder that, even though they were able to provide temporary shelter, food and clothing, the government and relief organizations can't be expected to rebuild the spirits of the people of New Orleans. And she'd be the first to admit that she's managed to bounce back so well because one person took her by the hand and talked to her almost daily to offer financial and emotional support and guidance. My commitment hasn't wavered in the six months since we first met.

Even though I've built a career on connecting top employers with talented women, getting to know Banks has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.

Banks couldn't be any more grateful for the assistance she's received. Thousands of other New Orleans evacuees haven't been as fortunate as they struggle to find their way. I often think about the good people I met who I couldn't help because of time and resources, even though they were no less deserving.

I firmly believe that being an American comes with the responsibility to help others. No matter what our means, each of us has the ability to lend a hand to someone in need. At the end of the day, it's the most valuable work we can do.

To connect with Tory Johnson or to learn more about career advancement opportunities, visit www.womenforhire.com.

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