Despite the fact that it takes her nearly two hours to get to her job as a security guard at the Diamond Heights Safeway in San Francisco, Unique Gadsden, 23, smiles as she punches in and grabs a coffee.
“I’m very grateful that I’m here,” she says. “Most of the people I work with are really laid back and calm. It makes the job easier because we’re all in this together.”
Unique had a similar feeling when she first came to B:E at age 18. “When I exited out of foster care, I didn’t really have a plan set up so I was homeless at first,” she says. “Getting a spot in B:E’s Community Housing helped me get situated.”
Stable housing allowed Unique to pursue vocational training in technology and eventually become certified to work as a security guard.
“The B:E staff will do any and everything to help you.”
B:E provides Unique with bus and BART passes to get to and from her job. That is an enormous help, she says, since her commute takes her on multiple buses as well as BART.
Unique has a technique for handling her challenging full-time schedule at Safeway where her shifts start at 5:30 pm and end at 2:00 am. “If I don’t feel like going to work, I remind myself that at least I have a job. It’s hard but you don’t stop just because it’s hard. You keep going. And the next time, it’s easier. You get into a routine.”
Unique now lives with a cousin while she looks for her own apartment, and DeShauna West Anderson, B:E’s Transition Services Division Manager, is there for her, sending weekly updates about housing opportunities.
“I enjoy working with Unique because she is extremely resourceful,” Anderson says. “Even when she receives support from B:E, she will also provide us with resources to help other clients at B:E. She also loves to smile, laugh, and let her presence be known.”
What advice would Unique give to other young people? “Perseverance is the key to having a successful life,” she says. “Sometimes it’s hard but you have to overcome things and think positively. If you have a positive mind, nine times out of ten, things will work out.”