Each week we conduct Orientation Class for new Wayne Township Assistance clients. During class there are presentations by representatives of several departments of our office.The speakers outline the role of their departments including Employment, Workfare, Investigations and Payee. I conclude the class by encouraging clients to gain the self confidence they need to move on with their lives. Once a client finishes the Orientation Class, he or she receives a Certificate of Completion, which is good for six months.
I explain to the class that, "I am one of you." Like some class members, I never thought I would be without a job. When I was in my 20s I lost my job and had to seek assistance. I had a good paying job with the City of Fort Wayne, a nice car and my own home. I was very proud and on top of the world. The funding for my job was cut, and I found myself unemployed. I lost my car, my home and my furniture. Part of my job with the City included taking others to the unemployment office to help them get their unemployment. Now I had to go the unemployment office for myself. I was so embarrassed, and I didn't want anyone to see me there. I share my own experiences to show clients that no matter how many problems they are facing now they can achieve success. I try to motivate our clients to improve their situation and move from assistance to independence.
Sometimes when you're down is when you wake up to life. The best thing you can do to bring yourself up is to get an education. If you don't have a high school diploma, then you must get a GED. If you are a high school graduate, then consider going on to college.
I tell class members that you must have discipline to be successful. Each of us must learn to live within our means. You might see me in the Goodwill Store buying clothes, and you can do that too. I have nothing against pets; but if you can't afford to feed yourself, I suggest you not get a pet. For those who smoke, I know it's hard to quit because I did it. Cigarettes are expensive; and something you may have to give up for your health and because you can't afford them.
We sometimes discuss anger in our Orientation Class. Anger is a natural human emotion, often felt after losing a job. Sometimes problems occur not because we feel anger; but because we don't control the anger. In the training class members share reasons they may feel angry, and often they mention money problems. They offer suggestions such as thinking before acting; taking a deep breath and trying to relax before saying something; paying attention to body language; talking over a situation with a trusted person; not holding anger in and doing nothing to remedy the situation. Displaying anger in an inappropriate way can lead to losing a job, not getting a job, or alienating friends and family members. We must strive to get along with others even when we are angry.
I know that many in our class don't want to be here at the Township asking for help. I explain that the role of the Trustee's Office is to help them get back on their feet. I challenge clients to keep striving for perfection. Our investigators offer great advice on a variety of topics. I suggest to clients that they follow the investigator's advice and always try to be the best they can be.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee