Housing coalition celebrates 1st year of jobs program
by Staff Writer
DAVIDSON – A year after the Davidson Housing Coalition affiliated with the N.C. JobLink network, about 130 unemployed citizens have found hope and help at the agency, based at 220 Sloan St., suite A.
Employment assistance traditionally falls outside the purview of the nonprofit agency, which has assisted families in the purchase and rental of safe, affordable housing since 1996. But as an increasing number of jobless clients came to the agency for help with housing, coalition Executive Director Marcia Webster saw the need for employment services in the greater Lake Norman area.
Webster successfully negotiated with the Regional Workforce Board in Charlotte to put a JobLink Career Center in the housing coalition’s office, to provide employment services to the northern part of the county. The number of clients served during the first year, with no public marketing campaign, demonstrates the need for a full-service employment office in the North Mecklenburg/South Iredell area, Webster said.
Coalition staffer Gail Brooks-Lemkin manages the program. She meets with each client to evaluate his or her strengths and needs, provides resume assistance and helps with job searches on a computer dedicated to the N.C .JobLink network. Brooks-Lemkin keeps track of each client’s career interests and follows up with them when job opportunities arise in their field of interest.
Many clients need more than job counseling, and Brooks-Lemkin refers them to supportive social services such as Angels Food Ministry, Crisis Assistance and Loaves and Fishes.
Brooks-Lemkin also serves as a cheerleader to clients who have lost hope.
“Unemployment damages self-esteem and demoralizes many people,” she said. “I try to help clients see their value and lift them up to realize their own potential.“
The JobLink network, also called SHARE, gives Davidson Housing Coalition a complete package of services to help local people in need. “It’s a lot more than helping people find work. It’s helping them put their lives together,” she said. The coalition “can now do that in several ways. SHARE and Gail’s personal counseling can help them find a job. They can learn to live on the income they have and save for the future through our financial counseling services. And finally, we offer wage-rate housing options that provide them with a place to live while they work to improve their situations.”
People interested in the services offered through JobLink should contact Brooks-Lemkin at 704-892-4486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Giduz is Davidson College’s media relations director and serves on the board of directors of the Davidson Housing Coalition.