A Perfect Fit

Alexandria first walked through our doors with dreams of pursuing a career in IT. When she walked into her first day of class, and realized that she was not meeting the dress code, Alexandria thought that that dream was shattered. She did not have any professional clothes, and was unable to afford new outfits on such short notice. Her Service Coordinator signed her up for a Clothing Connection appointment. Clothing Connection is a service through St. Vincent de Paul that provides professional clothing to CityLink clients.

During her appointment, Alexandria had help from volunteers who acted as personal shoppers and chose different outfits for her. She says that having this help made it much less tedious to find things, especially since she doesn’t particularly enjoy clothes shopping.

“Going through clothing racks is tough,” she says. “The volunteers actually listened and took my style into consideration. It really relieved my stress.”

Not only have Alexandria’s new professional clothes helped her with mock interviews at CityLink, but they have also helped her meet the dress code and stay in Per Scholas. Now that she has graduated, her new clothes will also help with job interviews.

“I feel brand new in my clothes!” she says. “I’m not usually a big skirt person, but when I dress up, I feel accomplished.”

Alexandria adds that she would recommend “the whole CityLink ordeal” to everyone. She says that CityLink has truly helped her reach her goals, and that Clothing Connection was a huge part of it. She is now able to present herself professionally for future career prospects.

“Clothing Connection has everything!” she says. “I believe everyone should take advantage of it.”

Reaching New Heights

Traveling to a new country was something Ryanna had never imagined. She had spent a long time overwhelmed with loans, life expenses, and unemployment. When she first heard about CityLink, she came by to check out Cincinnati Works in hopes of finding full-time employment. After finding a secure job, Ryanna realized that she needed help managing her finances. She didn’t have a savings account, had never built a budget, and didn’t know anything about credit. She got engaged with SmartMoney, where she was able to take classes like basic budgeting, understanding credit, understanding loans, and prioritizing debt while meeting one-on-one with an on-site financial counselor. Through this process, Ryanna was able to build a budget, begin building her credit, start her first savings account, and pay off all her debts. She says that SmartMoney has made her finally feel, “financially comfortable.”

In fact, Ryanna is taking a vacation to Cancun, Mexico with her saved money! This trip will not only be her first time out of the country, it will also be her first time on an airplane.

“I get to experience something I’ve never experienced in my life,” she says. “If I hadn’t gone through SmartMoney, I’d never be able to go.”

She adds that it is a relief, and is very exciting, to be able to take a luxurious vacation, not worry about her finances, and even have extra money set aside in case of an emergency. Instead of stressing about finances, she will be able to spend her vacation relaxing by the pool and enjoying Mexico’s beautiful sunshine. Ryanna plans to stay engaged with CityLink and continue meeting with her financial counselor to keep improving her budgets and savings plan.

Per Scholas Soapbox Feature

SoapBox Cincinnati recently highlighted the Per Scholas program at CityLink Center. The article discusses Per Scholas’ non-traditional classroom and a-typical training platform, and how it is literally changing the face of Information Technology (IT). The article will continue to be updated over the next few months, introducing readers to current Per Scholas students, and sharing success of alumni who have graduated into gainful employment.

Check out the article here!

 

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.

Vision Night

RSVP HERE 

We’re Just Getting Started.

Mark your calendar and plan to join us for Vision Night 2018: Year 5

We’re celebrating 5 years of operation in Cincinnati and it’s been an incredible journey so far. Thousands of clients have embarked upon a relentless pursuit of positive life-change and we exist to be a driving force of support in their story every step of the way. At Vision Night, we’ll share a bit about where we’ve been and what we’ve learned and a lot about where we’re headed. We hope you’ll join us for a night of reflection and vision casting.

  • 2017 Annual Report Release
  • Client Storytelling
  • Light refreshments
  • Please RSVP by April 5th

We hope to see you there!

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.”

Come Celebrate With Us!

RSVP HERE

 

 

 

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.