When Darren Stokes graduated from high school in Chicago, he immediately and eagerly joined the workforce. In almost every job he held, Darren’s motivation and ambition were easily recognized, and he quickly worked his way up to managerial roles. But Darren wanted a career pathway, and he decided to become a conductor in the railroad industry. Darren worked at the railroad for about six years. Unfortunately, he experienced multiple layoffs. In 2020 when another layoff impacted his career, Darren knew it was an opportunity for change. He found temporary work during the pandemic, but his career goal was to open and operate his own business. In 2022, Darren did exactly that! He says, “I created my own company delivering RVs from Chicago to California, and I realized that if I could do the drive in my own pick-up truck, I could certainly do it in an 18-wheeler.”
To continue on the path of business owner within the transportation industry, Darren would need to pursue his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), but he didn’t know where to start. Luckily, Darren’s fiancée knew all about National Able Network! Their mutual passion for the transportation industry and entrepreneurialism were aligned, so they both actually applied to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program with the hope of learning new skills and training for a better life.
Through the application process, Darren and his fiancé worked with Career Coach Khefren Sackey. When asked about his experience with Khefren, Darren says, “Coach Khefren needs an award or something. He’s so great! He was just as quick as we were.” Darren and his fiancé were ecstatic! Whether it was completing documentation or providing guidance with next steps – Khefren was on it. As soon as Darren was approved for WIOA, he joined attended 160 Driving Academy and earned his CDL.
The WIOA program at National Able Network allowed Darren and his family to continue on the path of career success. It was so valuable and life-changing that Darren recommended it to his family members, and his aunt is currently in the WIOA program as well! Darren says, “Being part of the WIOA program has helped tremendously. It opened up an avenue that wasn’t available to us. Without this program, I wouldn’t be a truck driver.” Darren has this advice for other folks in his position: “If you need help or assistance, National Able Network is the first place I would start.”