ProjectCARE Underway

This past summer, Greater Twin Cities United Way WINGs awarded HIRED with a $60,000 grant to provide young mothers with customer service training. We’re proud to report that our first ProjectCARE class has graduated and is well on its way to success. Of the three young women who graduated from class, two have earned the National Professional Certification in Customer Service and the remaining participant found a job prior to her test date. We are continually impressed by our participants’ accomplishments, and are grateful to all of our partners who made this project possible.

Alvita Lynch, a 25-year-old mother of two, is a great example of the power of collaboration. Alvita joined ProjectCARE because she struggled to stay motivated in her job search. Looking for a change of pace and a new direction, Alvita’s employment counselor recommended customer service training. “When Alvita first came into my class, she was very quiet and reserved – almost cautious about being in the classroom,” shares Tanya Dyer, ProjectCARE Senior Trainer. She continues “It was great being able to watch her open up as the weeks went by. She started to recognize her strengths and her growth areas; she is incredibly warm and caring. Alvita was such an asset to the classroom experience.”

During Alvita’s four-week customer service training, she learned fundamental customer service skills including effective listening, non-verbal communication, phone etiquette, handling difficult customers and meeting supervisor expectations. As a part of the series, Tanya also spent a week teaching job search basics and provided hands-on support as young mothers looked for jobs and completed job applications.

Aside from funding the project, WINGs members have provided business expertise to ProjectCARE as well. In fact, Meredith Heerey, Human Resources Business Partner for Lunds, played a key role in getting Alvita a job interview with the store manager in Wayzata. Using this professional connection as well as the skills she learned in ProjectCARE, Alvita nailed the interview and was quickly hired on.

Alvita has been working at Lunds for more than a month now, and enjoys interacting with customers. She even recalled a recent situation with an impatient customer where she had to draw on the customer service skills she learned in class. “I just had a positive attitude and smiled,” describes Alvita. She’s hoping that within the next couple of months she can begin working full-time.

“I would recommend the [customer service] class to anybody. The whole community would be better if we all had customer service training!”

HIRED 1-Minute News Flash

October 17, 2013

Youth Programs Honored

HIRED was recently awarded “Outstanding Service to Youth” by the Minneapolis Employment and Training Program (METP) for helping more than 100 teens stay in school, earn vocational credentials and build early work experience. Each participant received one-to-one academic support and career planning, as well as help navigating challenges at home and in school.

HIRED received the prestigious award after earning an “A” grade last year from METP. We’ve been serving youth since 1970, and currently have youth counselors at local schools, correctional facilities, transitional housing organizations and state workforce centers.

Says Jan West, HIRED Sr. Program Manager, “We’re all very excited about the award. The youth who come to us for help are struggling at home, in school – our counselors are often the only adult voice telling them not to give up. I’m very proud of our team of counselors.”

Banker Group Visits HIRED

Peter Heegaard, former trust banker and founder of Urban Adventure, recently brought a group of 25 banking professionals to HIRED to learn about workforce development. Urban Adventure provides an urban-based educational experience for up-and-coming business leaders. Participants tour nonprofits to study the issues affecting impoverished communities, including ways they can become involved and make a difference.

The group spent an hour with Jane Samargia, HIRED executive director and Kari Felegy, HIRED associate director of youth programs, to better understand the problems facing thousands of low-income families in our community.

“It’s not every day we see a large group of bankers come through our doors,” says Kari, “It was quite an experience to describe the challenges our participants face on a daily basis. My hope is we’ve made them more aware and inspired them to be a part of the solution.”

Heegaard shared that Urban Adventure is in its 16th year and he always looks forward to visiting HIRED. As a former HIRED board member and long-time supporter, he is very familiar with the comprehensive assistance HIRED provides to low-income individuals and families in the Twin Cities.

Meet our VISTAs

Tenzing Tunden is a job development specialist at the East Bloomington office. He is a recent graduate from the University of Arizona and relocated to the Twin Cities from Southern California. His professional goals for the next year are to build on his marketing and sales skills. He would also like to gain more insight into ex-offenders and the realities they face upon reentry into society. Tenzing’s primary duties will be building relationships with employers and organizing and implementing job fairs.

Alyssa Whalon is a business development and outreach specialist at HIRED’s office in North Minneapolis. She graduated from Missouri State University and relocated to Minneapolis from Kansas City, MO. During Alyssa’s year with HIRED, she will be working with the sector programs. Her primary goals are to draft outreach plans to engage additional trainees and employers in sector program initiatives then implement those plans. She’s looking forward to gaining more skills in marketing and helping build a sustainable marketing and development plan for the sector programs.

Mandy Cornell is the Marketing and Communication Specialist for HIRED’s sector programs. Her responsibilities are to develop fresh marketing materials and communication strategies. She received a BA degree in Communication, Media, & Rhetoric and History from the University of Minnesota Morris. Mandy supplemented her education by developing informational videos for small nonprofits and by working as an intern for the Minnesota 4-H Youth Organization. She enjoys the challenges and opportunities presented by HIRED and AmeriCorps, and plans to pursue a career in developmental communications and in illustrating children’s books.

Thank You Xcel Energy

Photo of students at tables completing assignmentsThis week Xcel Energy awarded HIRED a generous $10,000 grant to provide job search and workplace readiness assistance for individuals who are long-term unemployed.

“This grant will help us serve nearly 100 people.  All of them have been without jobs for many months, or even a couple of years, despite their attempts to find work,” said Nancy James, Director of Workforce Services.  “We’re so thankful that Xcel Energy recognizes the special challenges faced by people who are long-term unemployed, and for lending their support to specialized services that we know can get them back to work.”

Recent statistics from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development indicate that the number of long-term unemployed individuals in the state has increased 274% since 2007.

Xcel Energy is a long-time financial supporter of HIRED’s programs for disadvantaged job seekers, with several representatives from the company having served on the organization’s employer advisory boards.

Networking Under the Big Tent

Pictured are Rachel Vilsack and Adrian Shaheed, with the Hennepin South WorkForce Center in the background.Today, HIRED’s Adrian Shaheed and Rachel Vilsack from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development led a networking workshop as part of the First Annual Big Tent Career Fair.

The workshop gave job seekers tools for uncovering employment opportunities in the “hidden” job market through creative networking strategies.  Adrian and Rachel met while networking, proving that connections made through networking can lead to lasting business relationships.

The Big Tent Career Fair was promoted as the summer’s biggest community job fair in the Twin Cities and held at the Hennepin South WorkForce Center in Bloomington.   The event was sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and the Hennepin South WorkForce Center.

Adrian works as a Business Development Coordinator at HIRED.  Rachel is Regional Analysis and Outreach Manager in the Labor Market Information Office at DEED.

House Select Committee on Living Wage Jobs Visits HIRED

Pictured at HIRED’s office in the Sabathani Community Center in south Minneapolis are, from left to right:  Representative Ryan Winkler (Committee Chair), HIRED Executive Director Jane Samargia, Representative Susan Allen (who represents citizens in the neighborhoods nearest Sabathani) and HIRED Program Manager Barbara Doyle.

Pictured at HIRED’s office in the Sabathani Community Center in south Minneapolis are, from left to right: Rep. Ryan Winkler (Committee Chair), HIRED Executive Director Jane Samargia, Rep. Susan Allen (who represents citizens in the neighborhoods nearest Sabathani) and HIRED Program Manager Barbara Doyle. Rep. JoAnn Ward also attended the meeting.

Today, members of the Minnesota House of Representatives met with HIRED staff members and a client to learn more about the challenges of connecting people to family sustaining jobs in today’s economy.

David, a HIRED client, shared his story of finding his first job—at the age of 47—with help from HIRED.  HIRED’s leadership team discussed strategies used to help people find living wage jobs, including sector-based job training and supported work opportunities.  They also provided testimony about how current public policy both helps and hinders their efforts.

The Representatives are all members of the Select Committee on Living Wage Jobs.  Today’s meeting at Sabathani Community Center, also attended by members of the public, was one of several scheduled meetings the committee will continue to hold throughout Minnesota.  The purpose of the meeting was to receive “from the field” information from providers of employment and training services.

Committee members also heard from Dane Smith, President of Growth and Justice, about trends in demographics, workforce needs and economic development that have great potential to positively inform future workforce development policy.

Bringing Books and Learning to Young Families

HIRED staff members Kari Felegy and Kirsten Gulbro joined Minneapolis Rotary President, Sharon Bloodworth, for a recent grant award ceremony.Thanks to a generous contribution from the Rotary Club of Minneapolis, HIRED can purchase early childhood literacy materials for 100 low-income children in our Program for Academic and Career Excellence (PACE) initiative.

By helping young families to make books and learning a part of their daily activities, HIRED seeks to improve educational outcomes for the next generation.

Pictured at right, HIRED staff members Kari Felegy and Kirsten Gulbro joined Minneapolis Rotary President, Sharon Bloodworth, at a recent grant award ceremony.

HIRED Celebrates the Service of Carol Aharoni and Barb Dahl

Pictured, from left to right, are HIRED's HR Director Amy Barwick; Executive Director Jane Samargia; Carol Aharoni and her husband Menachem; and Barb Dahl.

Pictured, from left to right, are HIRED’s HR Director Amy Barwick; Executive Director Jane Samargia; Carol Aharoni and her husband Menachem; and Barb Dahl.

This week, HIRED celebrated the service of two dedicated leaders: Carol Aharoni and Barb Dahl.

Carol, who served as Program Director of HIRED’s youth and special projects, recently retired after 25 years at the organization. Executive Director Jane Samargia noted that Carol is a passionate and skilled advocate for serving people most in need of employment and training services, including ex-offenders, at-risk youth and refugees.  Jane shared several stories— some humorous and all heartwarming— that demonstrated Carol’s tireless commitment to ensuring disadvantaged people could access high-quality employment services in their neighborhoods.

Barb, who served as Program Director of HIRED’s welfare-to-work programs, recently took a leadership position with Scott County after 15 years at the organization.  More »

Companies Connect with Local Talent at HIRED’s Latest Job Fair

Attendees at the career fair are pictured as they wait to talk with hiring managers.Take 101 former employees of SUPERVALU, add 16 Twin Cities area companies looking to hire local talent, and you get a morning full of high-energy networking…. and job placements!

“The Ramada MSP Airport at the Mall had an amazing ballroom set up with a calm and welcoming environment, perfect for the event,” said Megan Myers of HIRED’s Employer Services Division.

“Each employer had many different opportunities to offer; ranging from financial/accounting positions to warehouse fulfillment, sales director to systems engineer specialist.  Attendees were then given the time to speak individually with desired employers.   Almost every table had a wait line! The job seekers were so willing and excited to make connections,” noted Megan.

Ecolab Foundation Helps St. Paul Area Youth Succeed at School and Work

Photo of teen maleWe’d like to thank the Ecolab Foundation for its generous grant in support of HIRED’s St. Paul youth programs.

Grant funds will be used to help more than 400 low-income and at-risk youth in the east metro finish high school, participate in internships and find jobs.

HIRED’s employment counselors serve young people in Ramsey County at the St. Paul Workforce Center’s youth room; at Boys Totem Town; and by meeting with them at several area high schools.

Thank You Carlson and Carlson Family Foundation!

Program participant and her young sonWe recently received a generous grant from Carlson and the Carlson Family Foundation to provide mentoring for young parents receiving employment services at HIRED.

Our employment counselors tell us that young parents often face a multitude of challenges in establishing their careers, and the support participants receive through mentoring makes a world of difference for them.

Thank you Carlson and The Carlson Family Foundation!