Job Mentoring Success Story - Jap Riley

Overcoming Fear; Finding Your Motivation
A Job Mentoring Success Story


At 24 years young Jap Riley’s fear left him surrendering to the way things were in life. Depending solely on the kindness of his family, Jap was without a job, struggled with severe literacy issues and lacked the drive to change any of it… that is until 6 months ago with the birth of his child.

“I feel something’s gotta motivate you to want to do something,” Jap said. “When he was born and I got to hold him and thought, ‘this is my son right here and I don’t want him to go nowhere!’ I got over my fear and all that. You can’t do nothing by hiding from your fear. I did it for my son.”

That’s what sparked Jap to make the walk all the way from west Delray to Boca Helping Hands. He’d heard about BHH through several friends and was optimistic that through our Job Mentoring he’d have success. He’d been told that we really work with people and help them get jobs… and he was ready.

“Every time I walk in here it’s much better. I mean nobody laughs at me here or nobody says ‘Oh, you’re too dumb to do this or too dumb to do that’ everybody helps me. I don’t like being picked on like that… I’m trying to do something! Everytime I come here, nobody does none of that.”

Early on in his processing, it was determined that Jap’s level of illiteracy was a huge hurdle in his gaining employment. Unable to accurately fill-out an application, he wasn’t getting traction from prospective employers. He began working with volunteers Alma Blair and Gary Hildebrand, on interviewing techniques, setting goals, and even assisting with completing his applications.

“I’d fill out applications but I don’t think it’s completely accurate because some of the stuff they have on there I can’t read it. I couldn’t even read half the stuff that was on there… only real simple stuff. So I just go off the top of my head and just do it on my own,” Jap shared. “I’m learning now that if you need help don’t be scared to ask people. That’s the other reason why I used to get in trouble sometimes because I didn’t want to ask… my pride wouldn’t let me.”

Earlier this month he once again made the pilgrimage to Boca Helping Hands. After reviewing his new round of job applications, the BHH team put together a short list of local businesses that could be interested in a newly motivated man like Jap. On his way out, Program Director Trina Chin Cheong mentioned on a whim that he should also walk across the street and see if Meridian Management Corporation was hiring. After a few more pointers, off Jap went.

An hour and a successful interview later, they offered him a job on the spot! In complete disbelief, Jap just kept stammering, “I did not think that was going to happen… I just didn’t think that was going to happen!”

And his success story doesn’t end there. We’re proud to share that Jap has been selected to be our first candidate in the Boca Helping Hands adult literacy program The Reading Program. Once the Justin D. Webb Training Center opens in late January and classes begin, he will work one-on-one with his instructor Patricia Wilson to help him become a successful and confident reader.

“For me this is really the impact I want to see,” said Chin-Cheong. “This is going to change his life big-time! It’s the backbone of our mission. The first and foremost element that’s missing from a lot of our clients is literacy. I want to see people become more confident in coming forward and being able to say that they can identify themselves as one of our candidates for this program... that they feel safe to come to Boca Helping Hands… feel protected and respected. It’s going to open a door for them that they never thought existed.”

With his first day just days away, Jap no longer resembles the fearful man that first showed up at BHH. Focused on changing his position in life; his son always his driving force.

“I made a decision that I’ve got to change and I’m trying to make a start,” Jap added. “Everybody’s got something in their life to cherish or care about - my motivation is my son.”