I am always thrilled to learn about former clients who have been able to turn their lives around with the help of the programs we offer here at the Wayne Township Trustee's Office. That happened again recently when our Employment Director LeRoy Page went to a dinner at a local church. The free dinner was offered to help those who needed food assistance, and Mr. Page attended to provide information about Wayne Township.
While at the dinner, Mr. Page met a former Wayne Township client, who was working as a volunteer cook. The client told Mr. Page he is employed now as a cook at a Fort Wayne homeless shelter. He said he owes getting his job and turning his life around to Wayne Township. This client had been coming to Wayne Township for assistance for himself and his family off and on for several years.
The client said he had an attitude of entitlement, but ultimately a few years ago realized he had to change his thinking. Originally, he believed the Employment Training Classes, which are required by our office for assistance clients, were a big bother. But, then he began to realize that those classes were being offered to help him. So, he began to utilize the services of the Educational Opportunity Center (EOC), which partners with Wayne Township to assist our clients.
EOC visits our office every week to help clients with resume writing and seeking out educational opportunities. Before he was laid off, the client was a factory worker. He would need better skills if he were to become a success in today's world. EOC helped the client fill out his college application and his financial aid forms. The client now has received his associate's degree and is working on his bachelor's degree.
As a Wayne Township client who is able to work, this client was assigned to do "workdays" through our Workfare Department. This means he is required to work for a non-profit agency as a way to pay back the community for the assistance he has received. The client originally did maintenance duties for a homeless shelter that also serves meals to those in need.
This client had been a cook when he was in the military and had worked part-time in the past as a cook at some restaurants. While doing his workdays, he asked the food director at the shelter to allow him to assist with the cooking. Finally, on his last workday, the food director told him he could try cooking lunch the next day.
This led to the client obtaining a paying job as a cook at the shelter. It's a good job with benefits, he proudly says, and he loves his work. One of the purposes of our Workfare Program is to get clients out in the community where they can make contacts that might result in a job. That worked for this client, who has made great progress in moving from assistance to independence.
In May of this year, we had 266 clients enrolled in our Employment Training Center. From the beginning of this year to the end of May, seventy-five of our clients had found jobs. I am very proud of our Employment Department and Director LeRoy Page for the great job they have been doing.
They work with many community partners to provide training for our clients and to place them in jobs that match their skills. They spend hours on the telephone and visiting potential employers to develop contacts that might lead to jobs for clients. And, I especially want to compliment Mr. Page on his "Wall of Opportunity," an updated list of available jobs. The "Wall" is located just inside our lobby doors and has become so well-know that it is utilized not only by our clients, but by members of the community who are looking for employment.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee