Amber Hill’s first job was as a lemonade stand entrepreneur; her product commanded a premium. “I owned my first lemonade stand when I was about 4-5,” Amber recalls. “I had a nice table set up at front of driveway and sold mine for $.25, not $.10, because my grandmother’s lemonade was better.”
Amber, now 34, grew up on the south side, the oldest of four kids. Though close to both her parents, she was primarily raised by her father and grandmother, and remembers her childhood fondly. Amber’s life turned upside down when her grandmother died. “Grandmother was my everything. When she died I thought – that’s it. I went astray for basically 10 years.”
Amber was convicted of a felony and went to prison for five months. She realized it was time to change. “I thought: This is God tapping me on my shoulder,” said Amber. She learned about NLEN through an ex-boyfriend who had been through the U-Turn Permitted Program. “I gave it a try because didn’t want to hit the streets any more,” she said. Amber was president of her UTP cohort (class of August 2012), and was subsequently hired by Sweet Beginnings.
At Sweet Beginnings, Amber acquired skills in manufacturing, inventory management and operations, and became a certified beekeeper. Her favorite part of the Sweet Beginnings job was sales – not surprising, given her lemonade stand experience. “I made good sales,” said Amber. “You go to all types of events, and you set up sales events on your own.”
Amber needed to decide what to do after completing her Sweet Beginnings job. “I believe in Habakkuk – a visionary prayer. I wrote what I wanted on a piece of paper,” said Amber. Amber wanted to become a truck driver. In October 2012, she successfully applied for a Workforce Investment Grant for truck driving school, and took her graduation tests the following February. She is now employed by an owner/operator, driving overweight grain trucks to and from the rail yard. In 2016, Amber will marry a fellow truck-driver and will become a stepmother to his five children.