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Willis Dady looking for businesses to take part in employment program

(KCRG)
Published: Oct. 16, 2019 at 3:32 AM CDT
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Willis Dady Homeless Services in Cedar Rapids is looking for more businesses to take part in its employment program. It helps people staying at Willis Dady and the Catherine McAuley Center find jobs.

Willis Dady and Frontier Co-Op in Norway, Iowa, have had an employment partnership for more than a year. So far they have found apprenticeships for more than 70 people with a dozen of them going on to work full time there.

The problem Willis Dady is facing right now is it has too many clients and Frontier doesn't have enough openings for them. Frontier still has openings outside of the employment program.

Frontier says the program has been a success so far. Workers do a lot of linework and distribution, getting on the job training.

Jessica Rodriguez is one of the former clients who got hired full-time at Frontier. She says the program helped her get back on her feet.

"Without this program, I wouldn't be where I am right now,” said Rodriguez. “I was in Catherine McAuley where I didn't have transportation. Now I got a full-time job, I'm more stable, more independent.”

Workers at Willis Dady say helping people find jobs is a good way to break the cycle of homelessness.

"Income in general is fundamental to people being stable in housing,” said Emily Zimmon, Support Services Director at Willis Dady. “So what we see is that we can help people get into housing, but if they don't have a steady income, they're not going to be stable and it kind of creates that cycle of getting in and out of homelessness."

Workers in the program work 40 hours per week, making more than $11 an hour. Willis Dady checks on them twice per week. Workers also get rides to and from Frontier.

Willis Dady is looking for businesses struggling to find employees to reach out to them. It doesn't have to be for line work. They are looking for all varieties.

"We have people who are looking for different types of jobs as well so some people may not be able to work full time or work 8 hours standing on their feet,” said Zimmon. “So we're attempting to find other locations that are saying hey' we're struggling right now to find employees.”

Businesses can contact Zimmon by email: emily@willisdady.org.

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