Two Stories, Double The Impact

By Damon Guinn


Neng knows what it’s like to struggle. Before she completed HAP’s Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and Behind the Wheel driver training, the single mother of four children worked as a cook at a shelter for homeless and at-risk children and families. She saw people struggling every day – and she herself struggled to make ends meet on a low hourly wage.

Neng was grateful for her job at the shelter, and the chance to help families faced with more challenging situations than her own, but she worried that she would never be able to improve her family’s circumstances if she didn’t make a change. When she learned about HAP’s free CDL training program, she immediately enrolled. Two months later, she passed her CDL exam and driving test and was hired as a school bus driver with HAP Transportation.

The significant bump in pay has given her family greater financial stability, but she finds the emotional boost to be even more rewarding. “I enjoy seeing the kids getting up every day to go to school and returning home with a positive attitude,” Neng shared. “Seeing all of the kids motivates me.”

She encourages others who may be looking for a career change to check out the training program. “My experience with HAP has been great,” she added. “The people here are like family.”

A Recipe For Success

According to data collected by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, jobs for food prep and service, wait staff, and restaurant cooks ranked among the top 15 occupations “most in demand” in Minnesota. That is one of the key reasons HAP launched Tapestry Restaurant, a full-service Asian fusion restaurant with a 12-week training program that gives participants quick, low-barrier access to skills and livable-wage jobs in the growing hospitality industry.

Justin is one of the restaurant’s trainees who has benefited immensely from the experience. Unsure about what he wanted to do for a career, he worked in customer service, account management, and food service before joining Tapestry as a server in 2017. He quickly developed an interest in restaurant management and hospitality and, through hard work and a positive attitude, soon became the Front of House Manager. He now supervises the hosts and servers, helps manage supplies and orders, and promotes the restaurant on social media.

“Here at Tapestry, I believe that the biggest personal gain I have received is the network and support,” Justin said. “HAP offers opportunities that give people ways to advance their careers. Because of the support and trust I’ve gained from the management at HAP, they are offering more than I can imagine. I’m very grateful for that.”

To learn more about how you can take advantage of job training opportunities at HAP, contact 651-495-9160.