Willis Dady Homeless Shelter reveals new project to train clients for the workforce

Willis Dady launches new project
Willis Dady launches new project(KCRG)
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 9:46 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Willis Dady is building two new locations to try and help people experiencing homelessness in Linn County.

The need for employment services went up since the pandemic, and even more so after the derecho. So an anonymous donor helped start the program with a $400,000 donation.

The Willis Dady Works Campaign looks at two major issues is Linn County: the need for housing for people on their way out of homelessness and the need for generic job training.

Willis Dady Development Director Emily Zimmon said they noticed a pattern with their clients that needed to change. They noticed skills that other people may find simple, like communicating with a customer, could be a struggle for some clients.

“A lot of the time I’ve been talking about if you grow up in a household that doesn’t prioritize attendance for school or timeliness, that’s not going to carry over to your knowledge of what’s important in a workplace,” said Development Director, Emily Zimmon.

To improve case management, they launched Willis Dady Works Campaign. One building will be an employment hub located on First Avenue NW for clients to learn about the workforce and work on communication skills.

The other location will be built on B Avenue NW and will be used for what they call “permanent supportive housing”. It will include 14 units for people in live in as a bridge to a permanent place, even further away from homelessness.

“One of the things that was missing for our clients to clients to achieve stability was income immediately. So being able to get a paycheck, get work experience, get job training to be able to move forward. So that was what kind of spearheaded Willis Dady Works,” said Executive Director Alicia Faust.

She says the end goal is to find that stability for the people they work with.

“They’re contributing members to this society as well. And we want to make sure our clients are seen that way and that they see themselves that way, and bringing that general empowerment to them while also having finances and being able to gain and sustain housing is something we’re most excited about with this project.”

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