Nathan Wilson’s smile is contagious. His cheerful, easy-going presence instantly puts you at ease when you meet him in person. Nathan uses his bright personality every day as Operations Manager of Sans Souci, Inc. in Columbus, where he oversees employee activity in every department of the store. It’s hard to believe that less than one year ago Nathan was jobless, in poor health and in need of help.
“I think that United Way, it helps people that need second chances. That’s one thing Sans Souci is good about. They help give people in the community chances to get back on their feet. Before I came here, I had a lot of health issues and I couldn’t keep a job,” says Nathan. Nathan wanted to work, but every time he found a job his pancreatitis and blood pressure ailments would cause him to unexpectedly miss shifts during his first 90 days and would result in job loss. His health issues left him chronically unemployed and without transportation. With little outside help, he was evicted from his home and forced to surrender custody of his son. “It’s hard for a single father to get help in Bartholomew County,” says Nathan, “Real hard. I got real depressed there for a while.”
Nathan came to Sans Souci last year after connecting with 2-1-1 South Central Indiana and receiving clothing vouchers. “I came to redeem my vouchers. That’s when I met Logan here at Sans Souci, and he told me they were hiring. I filled out an application, and the next day they called me for an interview and I got the job,” remembers Nathan.
With his health issues still unresolved, Nathan began work at Sans Souci, sorting donations and attending the mandatory personal development workshops offered there. It was during one of these workshops that Nathan connected with Sheryl Adams, Sans Souci Executive Director, and was able to explain to her the health issues that had been holding him back for so long. She learned that Nathan had applied for insurance through the Healthy Indiana Plan, a State-sponsored program, but had gotten stuck in a holding pattern waiting for approval. “He went off some pretty significant medicine for blood pressure,” Sheryl says. “I started making phone calls, and found a clinic who could prescribe medicine for uninsured patients. We got him the medicine he needed and he was able to come back to work.” Nathan’s health improved with access to necessary medication, and he has been able to consistently attend work and focus on bettering himself.
Nathan and Sheryl Adams
In the past year, Nathan has continued to improve at Sans Souci – he was quickly promoted to cashier and then to manager. With Sheryl’s help, he saved enough money to buy a reliable car and is learning how to manage his expenses on a tight budget. He’s also regained custody of his son, who started middle school this year and is hoping to make his 7th grade basketball team. Nathan now mentors other Sans Souci employees, helping them to navigate their own difficult situations.
Sheryl explains that there are many people like Nathan in Bartholomew County who struggle to get by, who can succeed if they are connected to the resources they need to solve their complicated problems. “Most of the time, they want to do better for themselves,” Sheryl further explains. “Nathan knows that he wants something better in time for himself and his children, but he couldn’t do that with the issues that he was having. If you’re in need but you have multiple barriers, I know there are ways that we can help overcome them. Sometimes it just takes two or three others working on a problem.”
Nathan is currently taking classes at Sans Souci to prepare for his High School Equivalency exam. He has a five year plan that includes increasing his savings and attending a college program “to continue to better myself,” he says. “I owe a lot to Sans Souci. They were willing to work with me and a year later, here I am – still here, still working, still maintaining and moving on with my life."
*Update, October 2017 - Nathan is now enrolled in classes at Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus, where he is working towards his business management degree.