4 min read

A Workforce Journey: Rami

Rami philly pretzel factory workforce

My journey with Commonpoint Queens began 3 or 4 years ago. My wife and I came to Central Queens for help finding new, better jobs. In January of 2020 my life changed. But first, I’m going to go back to last summer (2019) when I was working two part-time jobs and felt I was in a dead end. I decided to get my food service license and when I completed all 15 lessons – and got a perfect score on each of the 15 quizzes! –  I qualified to take the main exam. I took the exam and I passed it. I knew something good was going to happen. 

I went to Carolyn in the Employment Assistance Department and she noticed the new certification on my resume. She introduced me to the Philly Pretzel Factory in Forest Hills. I had an interview with the store’s two owners, Nancy and Jose Villa, and 2 days later I got word that I got the job! This was a job with regular hours, Monday to Friday, and a higher rate of pay. I was finally able to take care of my family. My first day was the day the store opened, March 2, 2020.  My last day of work was March 16th when New York closed due to the pandemic. 

The next 3-months passed just like for everyone else in NYC, I quarantined at home and waited for word when I could get back to work. When I heard that I could go back in May I could not have been happier. I get asked a lot why I went back to work when I could “make” more through unemployment and I tell them that it may be cliched but it’s my lifelong hard work ethic. I want to promote myself in a better position than stay at home. I knew the pandemic payment would end and having the cushion was nice but temporary, and being self-sustaining was more important and permanent.

Getting back to work in May was great. I get in at 7:30 am and make the dough, form, and cook all the menu items. Then I work the counter and handle all types of transactions. You have to be a multitasker in the food industry. This job is extraordinary and has taught me so many things about myself. I’ve learned to trust myself, make decisions on my own, as well as the importance of skills like discipline, teamwork, and trust. These skills were all “on the job training,” they weren’t taught but learned as I went along. When I get asked what my favorite part of the job is I tell them that I like being an integral part of the entire process.  

Before this I was working two jobs as a waiter and a counter person. My hours changed and I had to travel long distances to get to work. This job is different; it’s steady, I’m respected. I’ve grown and learned. I’m in my 50s and I find myself in a more advantageous position to move forward and this job has given me a wonderful chance to do just that.

Carolyn and her staff are angels. I tell everyone “you come into Commonpoint, you are surrounded by angels.” They believe in everyone and that is something we are all working hard for. From day one Carolyn told me, “Rami you got this.” My life is a complete 180° from where I was a year ago, I hung in there and made it work and no one can ever take that away from me. I acknowledge that it took a group of people to believe in me. Leo, Chasity, Carolyn, Denia, Erica, Angela, Ahuva all led by Brynn played a huge role. It was their commitment to excellence and if I can do this anyone can do it. Today I’m on the other side of a mountain, I’m in a great place taking care of my family. It’s not about paying back what was done for me, it’s about paying it forward to the next person looking to make their life better. 

“Philly Pretzel Factory is delighted to partner with Commonpoint Queens’ Career Services program. Working with Carolyn and finding our first employee, Rami, was a great experience. We are excited to join the Queens dining community. We look forward to deepening our connection with Commonpoint and the Queens community. I invite everyone to come in and try our fresh, hot outta the oven pretzels, perfect for families, offices, and special events”