I hope by the time you’re reading this that our Township will have received some rain. Even though I enjoy the warm and sunny weather, the drought with our dried up grass, withering gardens and burn bans has gone on way too long. You really have to feel sorry for the farmers, whose livelihood depends on getting some rain for their crops.
I have always emphasized the importance of helping our clients obtain employment. Our mantra since I have been in office has been “assistance to independence,” and we continue everyday to work hard toward achieving independence for our clients. We have many allies in our quest to find employment for all our clients who are able to work.
One of these partners is a great lady and engaging speaker, Cathy Serrano, who currently is the Executive Director of the Fort Wayne Metropolitan Human Relations Commission. We first got acquainted with Director Serrano when she served in her previous position as Human Resources Director for Allen County. During that time, our Employment Director LeRoy Page used Director Serrano as a resource to help us find jobs for our clients.
Director Serrano paid our office another visit recently to speak during our Employment Training Class. Her personal story is interesting and inspiring to our clients. Her father was a sharecropper in Kentucky and she has worked since she was five years old. She had jobs such as mucking out horse stalls, building wooden ladders, flagging for road construction projects and serving as a waitress and bartender. Ultimately, as an adult, Ms. Serrano went back to school, received her law degree and attained the career success she enjoys today.
Her message to our clients was that it is not easy to be where they are now. She knows because she has been there. She said she has been laid off, downsized or whatever the employer chose to call it many times. She encouraged clients to not give up and to not listen to those who may try to paint them as a failure. “You can’t let being out of work defeat you.” She urged clients to take whatever job they could get to support themselves until they can find something better.
Everyone has skills, and you must recognize the skills you have that might help you obtain employment. Director Serrano spoke to the clients about networking and about retraining if their skills were outdated. She spoke about using resources available to job seekers such as the Wayne Township “Wall of Opportunity.” The “Wall of Opportunity” is just inside our lobby door and contains numerous job postings kept up to date by our Employment Department.
One of the most important things when you get an interview, Director Serrano said, is to look the part. Having appropriate clothing for an interview doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. She has shopped at second-hand clothing stores, and Wayne Township maintains a clothing bank to assist clients find attire for interviews. Looking the part will make the job seeker feel more confident.
Further advice is to practice interviewing skills to help you be less nervous in an interview. Thank your interviewer in person and follow up with a thank you note. When following up you should be persistent, but always remain professional. Ms. Serrano said she had to start over eighteen times. “When life knocks you down, you just have to get back up. The longest journey begins with a single step.”
I hope everyone in Waynedale has a happy and safe Fourth of July.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee