Getting from Point A to Point B

Lack of connectivity between good paying jobs and people who need them is a huge hindrance to our community.

The lack of transportation connectivity inhibits the ability for our clients to attain better wages at locations that are off the public transit system while stifling growth of businesses who are starved for talent.

This morning we engaged in two exciting conversations:

  • We invited Chariot to Cincinnati to engage with local businesses and organizations to evaluate their market driven, flexible solution for connecting employees to employers.  We learned about the company’s successful launch in SanFrancisco, Austin, Seattle, NewYork, and Columbus and hope that we build enough momentum for a local launch in Cincinnati.  This could open the doors to higher wage jobs and a broader talent pool for local corporations.

 

  • Beacon of Hope connects companies to hiring of individuals with criminal records, and continues to make great strides in expanding the benefit of 2nd chance hiring to more companies.  During their monthly update, several companies shared how individuals with felonies have become their most reliable and trusted employees.  This is not only a wonderful story of redemption but also an incredible story of economic opportunity as companies are forced to find new pools of talent in a tight labor market.

 

Opportunities to work with thoughtful and pragmatic organizations like these give us hope that our community will continue investing and supporting in the rungs of the ladder for our neighbors.  Systemic challenges of transportation and recidivism can be overcome….and we will lean into any effort to see innovative solutions brought to our community.

The Road to Success

In December of 2016, life had become difficult for Gerald. As a single father caring for his disabled adult son, he found himself without a car or a job. He came into CityLink for the first time with goals of obtaining employment, paying off all of his debt, and purchasing a car through ChangingGears.

When he first began his journey, Gerald did not qualify for ChangingGears. Without a steady job, he was not meeting the earned income requirements to purchase a vehicle. He began regularly meeting with his job coach at Cincinnati Works to work on his resume. Eventually, he earned a job through his resources as a military veteran. With this new job, Gerald continued to meet with his financial counselor, and was able to pay off all of his debt and get approved for ChangingGears. The day he received the keys to his car, he was able to pay off his entire car loan as well! Now, he no longer has to spend $300 per month ‘Uber-ing’ around town.

While working towards his ChangingGears goal, he was able to visit the onsite Health and Wellness Center, where he received optical appointments and a new pair of glasses. He says that his experience with the Health and Wellness Center was great – scheduling appointments was very easy, and there was never a long wait time for appointments.

Additionally, Gerald took advantage of clinical counseling through Catholic Charities, and was able to receive professional clothes for interviews through Clothing Connection. He says that having all of these services in one location is the best part about CityLink, and that he recommends CityLink to different people all the time.

Gerald’s hard work for over a year finally lead to him purchasing a car from ChangingGears and allowing him to easily travel to and from work. Gerald’s persistence paid off, it’s what the bible calls Chutzpah. That fire in our belly that keeps us focused on our goals.  Jesus likes that kind of persistence himself. He is impressed by the Gentile woman who argues with him until he heals her daughter (Mark 7:26). He also tells a parable of a widow who keeps pounding on the door of the judge until he hears her case (Luke 18:1-7). If an unrighteous judge will grant her request because she is persistent, how much more will a good and loving God answer her prayers! This is to teach us that we should always pray and never give up. Doing so shows that we believe in God’s power and His abundant love for us.

Dedication Pays Off

Before coming to CityLink, Tonya and her four children were living in an area that she felt was no longer a safe environment. She attended a first-time home buyer fair through the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), where she applied for a house through Habitat for Humanity. Unfortunately, due to her debt, her application was denied, and Tonya felt stuck.

Monica, a service coordinator, told Tonya about the SmartMoney services that CityLink offers. Tonya came to an Information Session and quickly became engaged. She began meeting one-on-one with a financial counselor and worked incredibly hard to create a budget and a savings plan, with a goal of paying off her debt. She and her family experienced some ups and downs throughout this journey, and it was often times hard to stay focused on what she was trying to accomplish.

“I was just trying to keep faith in God,” she says. “That’s what pulled me through.”

Despite some of the difficulties, Tonya persisted, and was able to pay off her debt in four months! After submitting her Habitat for Humanity application, Tonya was approved for a four-bedroom home.  She broke ground on her new home in February.

Tonya says that SmartMoney taught her a lot of essential life skills. She learned how to budget and put money where it should be, which has made her more responsible and aware of her finances. Before going through financial counseling, she never knew how much money she had been wasting. Now, she is able to not only save money, but also have money left over at the end of each month.

Tonya hopes that her journey with SmartMoney and Habitat for Humanity will have an impact on her children. She hopes to teach them to persevere and go after their dreams instead of giving up, especially when someone says no.After her home is finished, Tonya hopes to help others with Habitat for Humanity. Her dream, she says, is to travel to other countries with her two oldest sons and help build houses for others.

“Going through SmartMoney and Habitat for Humanity has opened a lot of doors,” she says. “Now, I want to be able to help someone else.”

Transitioning Home

While staying at the Talbert House, Roland met a lot of the people that were taking advantage of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) at CityLink Center. Those folks seemed to be doing well, and Roland wanted what he saw through his friends. Having a felony on his record made it incredibly hard to find employment, so he decided to check CEO out for himself to see if he could get some help. The first part of this program teaches clients important skills needed to secure a job.

“It definitely got me up to par on modern job skills I needed to be employable again,” says Roland. “It had been a year since I’d had a job. This class gave me all the new pointers I needed.”

After graduating from Life Skills Education, Roland began working with the work crew – a transitional employment opportunity designed to give clients work experience and a paycheck while they look for permanent employment. The work crew largely tackles manual labor jobs, which Roland enjoyed because he hopes to pursue a career in construction.

In addition to CEO, Roland has taken advantage of a huge amount of services that CityLink has to offer. He was able to receive optical services, and received a new pair of glasses from the on-site Health and Wellness Center. He received a few professional outfits, as well as some clothes for the work crew, through Clothing Connection. He also regularly engages with CityLink’s spiritual services by attending spiritual counseling and men’s bible study.

Roland says that spiritual counseling services have helped him be accountable and rely on God. They have also taught him some commitment skills, which have helped him stay engaged with CEO and work towards achieving his goals. He adds that he would definitely recommend spiritual counseling to other clients because he doesn’t believe he would be able to reach his goals without it.

Roland was recently returned to his home in Middletown and says that even though he is moving, he still plans to be engaged with CityLink. His favorite part about being a client has been meeting new friends and building new relationships. He adds that the CEO program is run by really great people.

“This place has helped me become rehabilitated and transition back into society,” he says. “It’s been a process, but it’s definitely benefited me.”

Relentless Pursuit

Our God is a God of 2nd chances. Just like in the book of Jonah, when God sends Jonah into a broken city to restore it, He too pursues each and everyone of us to restore our brokenness.

When he first walked through our doors, Anthony says that his life was very stressful and negative. He went through a lot of life-altering situations that nobody should ever have to go through. He experienced homelessness, got involved with dealing drugs, and found himself in the middle of gun violence.

Anthony started his employment journey never having learned how to create a resume or fill out an application. Cincinnati Works taught him how to apply for jobs, introduce himself to prospective employers, develop his resume, and present himself as a hard worker. After a few short weeks, Anthony landed a job with AK Steel in Fairfield, which he is very thankful for. He says that he feels very positive about his future, and he would recommend Cincinnati Works, specifically the JumpStart workshop, a thousand times to anyone who is willing to listen.

Although Anthony is grateful for his job, he knows he could have more of a career if he earned his GED, so he decided to enroll in Academic Solutions to further his education. Anthony has plans to go to college, where he hopes to pursue a degree in accounting. Anthony dropped out of school in 9th grade, and never had the chance to pursue a higher education. He says that earning his GED and starting college courses will be incredibly rewarding.

Anthony’s favorite thing about the program is working with teachers and tutors who really try to help students understand all the subjects. Every night, he does his homework, and if he gets caught up on a question, he can bring it into class the next day, and the teachers help him break it down.

“Academic Solutions is really helping me learn what I was supposed to learn when I was young,” he says. “This is stuff I was supposed to learn back in the 9th grade, but I never did.”He adds that it will fill a void in his heart, and he is also excited to be able to continue his education beyond his GED and pursue a career in accounting.

What a Guy!

We suggested a career in radio announcing based on his deep voice and charming personality, but it turns out God had a different plan for our friend Guy.

He initially went to school to pursue pre-law and attended Cincinnati State. During that time, he took a basic computer class. The professor for that class realized Guy’s potential for not only problem solving but also his interpersonal skills. He was able to effectively relate to people and get them to a place where they could be assured that they would have a working device.

Guy was hired part-time at Cincinnati State to work with computers, but after earning his Associate’s Degree, he moved on to Xavier University to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.

During an interruption in his career, Guy was watching the news and saw a story on Per Scholas, an IT training program. He had never heard about CityLink or Per Scholas before, but he knew that it fit with his passion to help those without voices. He called CityLink, and earned a spot in the Per Scholas IT program. At first, Guy thought there was no way he could complete the class. He worked hard, utilized all his time and resources, and after 8 weeks, he graduated the program and was ready to take his certification exams. When he passed his tests and became certified, he decided he wanted to look for not just a job, but something he can enjoy. He wanted to be someplace where he could contribute even a little to the life of someone else and that is exactly what he did.

Shortly after his certification, he accepted a position with SABIS working at a charter school in Mt. Auburn. In this position, Guy not only gets to put his IT skills to great use, but he also feels like he’s making a difference in students’ lives. His main job is troubleshooting and working with software that’s synced with state testing sites, ensuring that any challenges students may face are met, and that the testing is ethical. He says it’s an opportunity to look at students and see where the struggles are. He is then able to engage students and help them overcome any struggles they may have.

“CityLink and Per Scholas gave me a new outlook on life,” he says. “We can’t break barriers if we’re in the same old ways. It’s amazing to walk into a building and have so many organizations working together so seamlessly.”

After finishing the Per Scholas program and earning his job, Guy was asking himself how he could show his appreciation the most. He decided to start giving back to CityLink, which he says was a no-brainer. He spoke with his boss about making a part of each paycheck go directly to CityLink. “There’s nothing I can do to fully express what I’ve gotten from CityLink,” he says. “I hope my contribution will allow someone else to have those same experiences.”

Guy  is currently putting in Sweat Equity, the last step before he receives the keys to his car through ChangingGears. He also plans to return to Per Scholas in the summer to obtain his Network+ and Security+ certifications.

Tax Season is Upon us…

We get it. Filling Taxes is messy & confusing.

If you our someone you know could use some assistance,  The United Way is teaming up with H&R Block to provide families with free tax filing services for any household earning $66,000 or less. This free tax prep can save you $250 in fees, and make sure you get all the credits and refunds you deserve. You can participate in this program either online or in person.

The online program is offered through MyFreeTaxes.com. Check out the Video Below to learn more.

Or, get help in person

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) offers free in-person tax filing support for families with incomes under $54,000 through trained and certified volunteers at walk-in or appointment sites throughout the region. To find a VITA site near you, call 211 or click here.

 

 

If not us, Who? If not now, When?

As we remember Martin Luther King, we need to rekindle the urgency to see his dream of people being judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

At CityLink, we get to see our neighbors take the brave steps towards reaching their full potential through the incredible partners we have in one location.  We get to see relationships form across racial and socio-economic lines, where those lines blur and people see one another as the beautifully inspired creation of God.

We have seen over 1,000 people in the last year engage towards a better life….and we need YOUR help.  You can become a part of the movement by taking the brave step to improve your own life or support a neighbor on their journey.  Join us now.

 

A New Path

We love experiencing the determination and drive that John brings day in and day out to CityLink. John has been busy working towards his goals in Per Scholas. After hearing about CityLink from his sister, he decided to apply to both the Information Technology (IT) and the Quality Assurance (QA) classes offered through Per Scholas.

John says that the QA program is challenging but very useful for people who want to have a career in software testing. He thinks that the instructors are knowledgeable and present the lessons in a very creative fashion. He adds that the program is, “like finding a gold mine in the middle of a dessert.”

We love seeing what God is doing in John’s life. His mention of finding a gold mine in the middle of a dessert reminds us that God loves us so much, he creates rivers in dry land and paths in the wilderness.

“It’s [Per Scholas] a program that is put in place to serve the community,” he says. “It exemplifies Christ’s teaching that man is his brother’s keeper because it provides you with the knowledge you need to acquire a job that allows you to serve others.”

As a CityLink client, John also has access to all of CityLink’s Supporting Services. He has visited the Health and Wellness Center, where he was able to receive  a new pair of glasses. He has also been engaging with Catholic Charities, counseling, which has been helping him accomplish personal goals that are very fulfilling.

John is on track to graduate from the Per Scholas program in February. After graduation, he hopes to get a job with Thrive Impact Sourcing, the same company his sister works for. He also plans to stay engaged with CityLink through the SmartMoney program. John, we are excited to see where this new and exciting path you are on leads.

New Year, New Job?

Happy 2018!

We are excited to ring in the new year and also find that special someone to join our team in a client service role.

If you are interested (or know someone who is) in working full-time to support our mission, check out the job descriptions at: https://citylinkcenter.org/about-us/careers

Our team runs hard after God’s call and our opportunity to see our neighbors reach their full potential through providing holistic and client centered services.

All applicants should send a resume and cover letter to HR@citylinkcenter.org