by Myke Suyat
The Western Addition Neighborhood Workforce Services (WA-NWS) Partnership was formed to help connect jobseekers with the right services to overcome barriers that may be preventing them from finding employment. It’s not enough that a One Stop Career Link Center opened in 2009. People are dealing with other issues outside of identifying job opportunities or having a resume prepared. In some cases, there are legal issues or there are family issues. While organizations that handle these kind of challenges already exist, people often don’t know about them. Thus, the partnership was created this past fall to bridge the gap between resource and need.
“It’s really important that the partnership exists,” says Kriztina Palone, a Project Manager at the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD). “There’s a great need in the Western Addition overall, but particularly with residents in the various housing developments, including public and subsidized housing, who may need the services and don’t know they’re available. The partnership engages the entire community to connect these residents with services that enhance their opportunities to gain employment.”
The WA-NWS Partnership consists of the OEWD in an advisory capacity, Allen Community Development Corporation (a program of Bethel AME Church), Up From Darkness, Brothers for Change, Renaissance Parents of Success, Mo’ MAGIC, Westbay Development Corporation, and the Western Addition One Stop Career Link Center. The partnership, through a series of coordinated efforts, targets those underserved residents in public or subsidized housing, or anyone who may have multiple barriers to employment. The partnership also provides presentations directly to residents on-site at housing meetings. One of the presentations occurred in November to residents at Plaza East Apartments. Martha Hollins, manager of the Plaza East Tenants’ Association, says that the residents were “very receptive to the information sessions and had plenty of questions for the presenters.”
With goals in mind for 2011, the partnership will continue to hold presentations, distribute information at events, survey, and work with people one-on-one so that subsequently, they will enroll into workshops, training programs, case management services, and the One Stop Career Link Center. When the economy stabilizes, hopefully our Western Addition neighbors will have taken steps necessary to get their lives in check and their job applications above and beyond the minimum requirements so that they, too, can qualify for new opportunities.