It has been said, “sometimes work is one of the only safe places for people.” This is a statement to which Peckham Customer Service Representative (CSR) Charleta Beard can relate.

Charleta’s Peckham journey began in 2019 in the Manufacturing division as an entry-level sewer. “I walked in not knowing how to sew,” she recalled, “and walked out a seamstress.”  Although her time in Manufacturing was short, after working several unfulfilling jobs, a former Peckham coworker encouraged Charleta to apply for a CSR position in Peckham’s Contact Center Solutions.

At this time in her life, Charleta was looking for a career, and a place she could call home. “That’s the reason I came,” she explained. “They (Peckham) offer stability. I was tired of working temporary jobs or not knowing from month to month if I was going to like doing this.”

She faced many adversities, including physical disability, homelessness, and other deeply personal struggles that had discouraged her from believing in herself and her ability. Beyond the opportunity for meaningful employment, Peckham provided Charleta the chance to connect to internal and external resources to meet her daily needs, including clothing for work, access to a food pantry, and housing. Charleta also took advantage of BetterHealth, an online counseling and therapy service provided through Peckham, which enabled her to support her mental health.

Today, two months into her job, Charleta is thankful for the financial stability and excited about the potential for career advancement at Peckham. Additionally, she appreciates the support and psychological safety that Peckham staff provides— support that has created a space for her to thrive.

“(My VSS) Jennifer gave me a very safe place for me to say I need help,” Charleta said. “And the whole time that I’m going through this, I never felt less than.”

“(Everyone’s support) allowed me to get to a safe place where I could relax. It helped with my mental health, not worrying about my living situation, or if I was going to be abused. (It) put me in a safe place where I could be the best version of me,” she added.

Charleta’s passion lies in helping and serving people. She is currently enrolled at Washtenaw Community College, studying Human Services. Her next goal is to become a Vocational Services Specialist.

“One of the most beautiful things I found within myself is the ability to ask for help,” she said. “Peckham didn’t try to solve all the problems but pointed me to the resources to use.”

Smiling as she reflected on the positive changes in her life over the past few months, she concluded by saying, “The opportunities and bridges I have built here will carry me for a lifetime…I see a future here.”


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