KRA’s Spotlight! continues to shine on a series of articles related to the Power of Partnership. As much as they’d like, KRA programs cannot be all things to all jobseeker-customers. Whatever the program…youth or adult, and whatever the funding…WIA or TANF, the firm’s foremost responsibility is to provide workforce development services resulting in quality education and/or training that leads to meaningful and sustainable employment. Since customers do not come to KRA with single and solitary needs, the development of strategic community partnerships expand the impact of KRA operations by providing critical, employment-enhancing auxiliary services. This month, the KRA Work Participation, Placement, and Support Services Program* provides two more examples of the Power of Partnerships.
Regarding the Meet Me Halfway Village Center, Yvette Clark, KRA Job Developer, reports, “KRA/Baltimore is fortunate, grateful, and honored to have Meet Me Halfway [MMH] as a Preferred Worksite Partner! MMH gives our jobseeker-customers volunteer opportunities to be creative, and to exhibit and express their individual talents and gifts. In its role as an educational liaison, MMH has developed innovative strategies that acknowledge and support the collective strengths of our Baltimore community, families, and schools. More importantly, MMH consistently maintains a posture of advocacy and works to remove both minor and significant barriers in the home, at school, and in the community that may negatively impact the development of the youth in the community.”
Established in 2004, MMH is a community/faith-based program that provides holistic mentoring, training and resources to students; training and supportive services to teachers; and advocacy for parents and caregivers. In July 2012, Clark reached out to MMH and met with success when they agreed to join forces with KRA. The union has proven to enhance the missions of both organizations, providing mentoring and supportive services to MMH student members and their families, and hands-on work experiences for KRA jobseeker-customers. Clark continued, “Through volunteering, KRA customers gain valuable work experience by supporting MMH with mentoring, hall monitoring, cafeteria duty, administrative functions, event planning, teacher assistance, food distribution, warehousing, janitorial services, and more!”
Operated by the founder, Bernard Fayall, and Rita Fayall, MMH has met with more than 90 KRA customers, and effectively organized projects designed to contribute to, or even develop, a career path for each one of them. During their participation, they receive mentor training, job-readiness skills preparation, and project development skills training. Mr. Fayall stated, “I always wondered what would happen if we just met children halfway? That’s what MMH does. We meet the KRA volunteers halfway to achieve their goals. Ms. Fayall added, “Bring what you have. Take what you need. Meet Me Halfway has always had the goal to double the size of the school staff, by having a second person in every classroom. Because of our partnership with KRA we will be able to achieve our staffing goals!”
Ms. Fayall also spoke of success stories with KRA customers, Tarsha Jackson and Maria Doleman. “Originally, Tarsha had no interest in mentoring, but within 24 hours, she was smiling and sharing the success she had while helping a teacher. She was able to blend in and adjust to participate, and has demonstrated the quickest turn around in attitude and participation we have noticed in our program.” About Ms. Doleman, she added, “Maria came to us with a lot of challenges and felt she had not always been accepted in the past. But, Maria has emerged as a leader at MMH, and runs a resource center for parents, sharing her own experiences as well as resources that she finds.”
In conclusion, Mr. Fayall stated, “Meet Me Halfway is very pleased to have KRA volunteers at the school to support the vision of the program. Essentially, volunteers help the students and parents experience a very positive journey while in school. We are also starting to see KRA volunteers gain permanent employment, on average three individuals a week!”
The Park Heights Family Support Center (PHFSC) is a KRA Preferred Worksite Partner in Baltimore’s Park Heights community. In July 2012, KRA/Baltimore, represented by Yvette Clark, Job Developer, and PHFSC joined forces to provide KRA jobseeker-customers with parenting education, life-skills training, job-readiness preparation, computer skills development, financial literacy, and GED instruction. PHFSC also provides development activities for infants and toddlers up to 3 years old. Clark reports, “Our jobseekers, who are placed as volunteers, gain valuable work experience by supporting the PHFSC with filing, answering phones, maintenance work, and other services.”
Established in 1995, and operated by Linda Harvey, Director and Karen Jackson, Assistant Director, the PHFSC is able to provide a wide range of services to more families because of the partnership-support provided by KRA. “We are able to be more creative with the population we serve because of the referrals received from KRA, whose volunteers have helped us to serve many more families, especially those with young children. In most cases, the children are exposed to their first formal educational and social setting. Also, we are now able to offer a new Prenatal Workshop program, partially staffed by KRA’s volunteers. For the first time, we will be able to provide first-time mothers with education in basic baby care, bonding, and personal care and nutrition for the moms. We are excited to introduce these classes to our next group of expecting mothers, “ says Harvey. Jackson added, “This partnership helps both KRA and PHFSC participants to strive toward education, and to develop work ethics that help them in becoming productive, independent, and accountable citizens in the community.”
Clark concluded, “The Park Heights Family Support Center helps KRA customers to set goals and make them happen. The level of enthusiasm instilled by Linda Harvey and Karen Jackson and staff encourages all to achieve a new level of accountability and responsibility. We are honored and grateful to have the Center as a Preferred Worksite Partner. They are effectively helping our customers go from dependence to independence, develop stability for their young children, further their education, become more confident, and secure jobs to support themselves and their families.”
*KRA/Baltimore offers jobseeker-customers, who receive Temporary Cash Assistance benefits, a wide range of work-readiness activities, including comprehensive assessments, unsubsidized Community Work Experience opportunities, and job placement. To benefit area employers, the Program also provides occupation-specific skills training to prepare qualified jobseekers for employment in the fields of Early Childhood Development, Healthcare, Information Technology, and Tourism & Hospitality.