It didn’t take long to notice what set Donnell Foster apart from most – he quickly came off as being charismatic, intelligent, and ambitious.
Before Regency, Donnell bounced around from job to job, from grocery stores to fast food chains, retail to service industry, and more. Not only did Donnell find that there was very little upward mobility, but it was clear that his potential was being undervalued and overlooked.
Donnell Foster started with Regency Enterprises Services (Regency) in February, 2020, after losing the seasonal work he had been doing at Target. During this time, Donnell was participating in the Transitional Living Scattered Sites Program for older youth preparing to age out of foster care. It was through this program at Bringing Families Together that Donnell met Ruben Stallings, who worked with Regency at the time. He suggested Donnell apply at Regency. Donnell says, “I’m so grateful for [Ruben’s suggestion]. I felt like I could do anything with my extensive background and experience. I’m a hard worker. I think Ruben saw that in me and knew I could do it.”
“Without the program and Ruben, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.”
Bringing Families Together (BFT) was created to provide quality social services to children and families through foster care case management and resource family development. BFT has since grown to include other crucial social services, including the Transitional Living Scattered Sites Program. Donnell credits his BFT case worker for acting a mentor to him and for having a huge and lasting impact on his life. “Without the program and Ruben, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.”
A New Start at Regency
Donnell’s journey with Regency started at the Centene Community Ice Center. True to its name, the temperature at this location was frigid and demanding. When the contract with Centene ended, Donnell’s next challenge was to adapt to the vast differences in environment between Centene and the St. Louis Lambert International Airport to which he was transferred to in July, 2020.
The significantly larger layout of the Airport demanded some adjustments. Donnell began familiarizing himself with this new layout, at times feeling disoriented and lost within the Airport’s expansive interior. Through all these experiences, Donnell’s natural ability to adjust to change quickly and efficiently became an obvious asset.
Life at GM
As his time at the airport wrapped up in January of 2021, Donnell was then transferred to Regency’s General Motors (GM) location in Wentzville – located almost 30 miles farther away than his last assignment at the Airport. While he was initially discouraged by the commute, things started looking up for him at GM. Donnell was bound for great things at GM, where his hard work and enthusiasm would not go unnoticed.
Donnell explained that he ended up moving closer to the GM site after receiving a promotion in recognition of his hard work. “After I got to GM, I tried to go above and beyond, trying to help anyone that needed my help. I was promoted to lead. They gave me a chance and, after that, it was like a snowball effect. Like it was meant to happen. Now I’m settled in with everyone, and on a team.”
Donnell’s appreciation for his job at GM was palpable, with an unspoken relief to finally be valued by a company that is likewise thrilled to have him onboard.
In His Own Words, a Q&A
We asked Donnell a series of questions to pick his brain for insights and advice. Here’s what he had to say.
Why do you think you're a success at Regency?
When asked why he thought he was a success at GM and Regency, Donnell said, “I created a bond with the supervisors. I made myself useful.”
What advice would you have for someone else starting out at Regency?
When asked what advice he would for someone else starting out at Regency, Donnell was excited by the question, answering, “Definitely don’t give up and work hard. Everything will fall into place if you stick with it. Things will pay off. There is opportunity for advancement.”
What advice would you have for someone else going through the same program that you did?
When asked what advice he would for someone else going through BFT’s program, he didn’t skip a beat while answering with “Do what you gotta do. Take advantage of the resources they offer. I saw what the program had to offer and capitalized on that. That’s what it’s for. Use it.”
What do you think made a difference for you?
“Recognizing the opportunity that was in front of me. I am a smart individual – common sense goes a long way. Don’t ruin a good thing by being immature or not doing what you have to do.”
“[Regency] opened my eyes to a lot of things, including how a company should be.”
Many individuals simply need the chance to prove themselves with the right opportunity. When a company values its people, its employees thrive, and, therefore, so does the company. To highlight this, here are Donnell’s thoughtful insights into life at Regency’s and its strengths:
“The people are open, caring, and friendly. That’s hard to find in other companies. Regency highlights and uplifts people. I feel like I’ve been through a lot with Regency. It’s the longest I’ve been with any company, and I still like it.”
When asked about his future, whether with or without Regency, short- or long-term, Donnell said, “I would love to stay with the company. If not, they opened my eyes to a lot of things, including how a company should be. I feel like even without this job, I have gained a strong background and a lot of valuable experience working with Regency that I can take into my next professional endeavor.”
“Everything’s almost perfect now. I’m really happy here and in a good place. Everything is smooth now.”
Though lacking traditional support systems, Donnell's story is one of success, filled with grit. He came out of BFT’s foster care program, into its Transitional Living Scattered Site Program, to Regency, beating the odds that were stacked against him.
Through his resilience, commitment to hard work, and ability to recognize and capitalize on the opportunities Regency provided to him and resources and relationships made available to him through BFT that helped him along the way, he was able to achieve what so many of us desire for ourselves – to be happy.