The vast majority of low-income persons in America today want to work, are working and seek to improve their employment status in order to work more profitably.
CDMWorks is one of our busiest "departments" here at Central Dallas Ministries.
We have developed a number of fairly creative initiatives to assist people in deciding what they want to do and then in staying with them until they enjoy a bit of "traction" on the road they choose.
We work with employers to determine exactly what sort of employees are needed in different industries and companies. With this information we design training programs to meet the needs of our partner companies. The results have been encouraging.
Our weekly "Employment Circle" classes form the backbone of our employment efforts. These weekly gatherings help us identify people who are serious about work. It is amazing, inspirational and informative to listen in on these groups.
The students that I have observed across the last several years desire more than just about anything else to learn, to improve and to grow as effective workers.
Here on the corner of my desk is our most recent promotional flyer for our Employment Circle.
The headline tells it all: "Looking for a job? Looking for a career?"
Tomorrow morning at our technology center down on Hall Street, just across the street from the Roseland Homes public housing development, I know what will happen. I won't even have to call for an official report. Our training classroom will fill up by the 8:45 a.m. start time with folks eager to get on with their next steps toward a better life for themselves and their families. This is the constant that I have observed across the last several years.
People want to work. Improving skills so that working people can earn enough to making a living--that is the real challenge today.
Some of our students face real challenges.
Take Clyde, for example.
When he came to CDM last May, he had been living in the Union Gospel Mission for over a year and had not been working. During the class sessions and in his homework times, he worked on various employment tools, including his resume, his overall spirit and his skills. Just this month he landed a job with Star Concessions at DFW Airport. The position is not his end-game, but he is back on his feet and moving!
Or, how about Maurica.
She does not speak English fluently, but she is working on it. She worked hard in our Employment Circle and was hired by a former Employment Circle trainee who is now a manager at the Wyndham Anatole Hotel. Her report back to us is clear: "I am very happy!"
People keep showing up every week.
People want to work. Poor people want to work.
Don't let anyone tell you differently.
No doubt, many of our future students will be our new neighbors here in Dallas who've come to us from New Orleans. We will eagerly welcome them. And they, like the neighbors with whom we have been working already, will be eager to work.
We will do our best to get them ready for re-entry into the workforce. We will do all that we can to prepare them to command the highest hourly wage possible. We will stick with them after they are employed to provide them friendship and support.
It's what community is all about.
So many people have been calling to ask what Central Dallas Ministries needs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Already we have seen scores of families who have made their way to Dallas. We anticipate that our busiest days will be in the weeks ahead as these families move into apartments and houses of their own.
We will be helping the Dallas Housing Authority transport families to these homes. The apartments we own and operate that are vacant, though only a few, will also be available to these folks.
Most likely we will be helping these families get "set up"for living in Dallas. Not everything is completely clear, but we will respond however we are asked.
Terry Beer, Director of our Emergency Resource Center on Haskell Avenue, put together the following list of needed items immediately after the evacuation to Dallas began. We will receive items at 409 N. Haskell Avenue here in Dallas beginning tomorrow morning:
Hand Soap (bars)
Underwear--all sizes, men, women, children
Personal hygiene items
Over the counter medications
Slightly used clothing
Travel, sport and/or book bags to carry what is received
Cash donations will also be welcomed as we prepare for the long-term upswing in demand for all of our services. Please make checks payable to Central Dallas Ministries, mark "Katrina" and mail to CDM, P. O. Box 710385, Dallas, Texas 75371-0385.
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