Vanessa's Story

Your support will help provide even more youth like Vanessa with transformational first jobs, skills-building workshops, and one-on-one support so they can successfully connect to economic opportunity.

“I was born in El Salvador and lived there until I moved here in 2019. When I was 7 years old, my dad passed away- my mom didn’t have a job and we didn’t have money, so she started a business selling popsicles.  

I decided to move to America and live with my sister in the Bay Area because El Salvador is not a safe country – there are problems with gangs – and I didn’t have many opportunities for school and work. It felt like, ‘either I lose my life here or find a new path.’ I was just 15 years old and I came here all by myself. It was scary.  

When I first came here, I missed my mom a lot and I wanted to go back. But I thought, ‘if I go back, what am I going to do?’ There is opportunity here.  

It’s not easy moving to the Bay Area, everything is really expensive here. Plus, I help my sister with rent. I needed a job, but I had never had one before. And I really didn’t know much English at the time, I mostly just knew the colors. Because of that, my age, and the pandemic, it was difficult for me to find work. 

I first heard about New Door through someone who was doing the program in Bayview. I was really impressed and surprised when staff told me I would get paid just for learning. I couldn’t believe it, it sounded great! New Door taught me communication skills, how to organize my time, and how to manage money. I was a really shy person, but I had to get comfortable talking at my internship and at weekly workshops with my cohort. Besides learning how to find a job, the best thing I learned was how to make a resume. My case manager sent me an example, which was so helpful. The volunteers helped a lot, too. They corrected grammar and gave us feedback and finishing touches. 

New Door’s case managers did more than just teach us skills- they also checked in on our mental health. The first question they would always ask was, ‘How are you? How are you feeling?’ You could tell they actually cared about us. They also offered help finding a place to get the COVID-19 vaccine and where to get tested. 

I interned at Peralta Hacienda and I loved it. I learned a lot about communication because we were interviewing people and had to be really professional when asking questions. I also learned how to use Microsoft Office. I organized the content they were sending to the museum and wrote a lot. The experience helped my English skills and made me less shy. 

When I got my first paycheck, I was so happy and excited. That day I opened a bank account and sent money to my mom. It felt so nice to help her. She’s helped me a lot and now I get to do the same thing for her. She’s getting older and I want her to work less. 

I was nearing the end of my internship and I didn’t have a job lined up, so I gave my resume to a restaurant that I saw was hiring. They were really impressed by how professional it looked and what I learned at New Door so they gave me the job! I’m really proud of myself and so thankful to New Door – it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have my job.”


No matter how you choose to give, we hope you’re inspired to contribute to New Door’s 40th anniversary campaign, part of which will fully fund weekly wages for 40 Employment Program interns like Vanessa. Support can also look other ways:

  • Donate with stock by reaching out to Jessica Yost at for instructions.
  • Coordinate a gift through your donor advised fund.
  • Have your gift matched by your employer to double your impact!
  • Provide in-kind donations to youth in the program, Email to learn more.

Help New Door provide wages and stipends for 40 youth this year.