Nonprofits look to create jobs for Smithville residents
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS — Smithville residents are focusing on getting back to work.
Around 40 neighbors packed the fellowship hall of Union Bethel Church on Monday, March 25, looking for ways to revitalize their neighborhood.
Organizers of the Smithville Community Coalition have been working for months to invigorate their neighborhood through home repairs, neighborhood cleanups and other initiatives, but Monday was all about jobs.
For one reason or another – the economy, a criminal record, dependency on drugs or lack of education and training – a number of Smithville residents lack employment.
But a team from Goodwill Industries and Habitat for Humanity were there Monday to explain training opportunities that will help residents pad their resumes and get them back on their feet.
Goodwill is largely known for it’s retail stores which sell gently used clothing and house wares, but many don’t realize the sales from those stores go toward funding job training scholarships in banking, hospitality, computers, construction and retail.
A lot of trainees end up with temporary paid jobs at the retail stores, gaining experience and references, but many participate in the certificate classes the organization offers to get a job outside of retail.
“Our mission is to change lives through the power of work,” said Joy Fortune, director of territory services and occupational skills.
Transitional Jobs Manager Cindy Ritchie explained that there’s an interview process for the retail jobs, and store managers often offer permanent jobs to trainees.
Ritchie filled an opening at the Cornelius store in January with a Smithville resident who she said has worked out very well in that position.
And while Ritchie does the hiring, Angela Mercer, career development specialist helps clients with resumes, mock interviews, offers workshops on how to dress for interviews and jobs, and helps them go through online databases to find work.
Mercer will be holding interviews and workshops in Smithville in April so residents won’t have to travel to her office in Concord.
“We want to be a part of your community and be there to help you,” Mercer said.
Fortune added that while many may not want to work retail, a temporary job in one of Goodwill’s retail stores would help fill any gaps in their work history and make them more employable.
Hands-on training and a good work track record is also helpful, which is where Habitat for Humanity comes in.
Mandy Rosado, construction manager with Our Towns Habitat for Humanity said on-the-job training from Habitat home builds is invaluable.
Habitat has had a hand in revitalizing Smithville for the last couple years, building new homes, and renovating others on North Ferry Street. But Rosado said he wants Smithville residents to be a part of the work.
Rosado said he will offer an hour and a half training session for residents May 1. Hands-on training and construction of the North Ferry home will begin May 5, and all of the construction will happen in the heart of Smithville near the community center, not necessarily on-site at the home, so the neighborhood can see its residents in action.
“We want you to get your feet wet … or muddy,” Rosado said.
While Habitat work is all volunteer, the training can be used for paid positions, and builds are an excellent place to network with the business community.
“If employers see you out there volunteering, that looks good,” Rosado said.
Lisa Mayhew-Jones, co-chair of the community coalition, said she wants as many Smithville residents to volunteer as possible.
“I want to get our residents involved in learning these techniques so we can go to our neighbors and help our neighbors, so we can help each other,” Mayhew-Jones said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to learn it in our community so we can help our community.”
Want to learn more?
Visit www.goodwillsp.org or contact Angela Mercer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-782-0828, and Cindy Ritchie at email@example.com or 704-393-6887 for more information on Goodwill training programs.
To sign up for upcoming training and job interview sessions in Smithville, email or call Lisa Mayhew-Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-907-0688.
To sign up as a volunteer with Habitat, contact Manny Rosado at email@example.com or 704.896.8957 extension 105.