My HOPE for individuals and families in 2022

My HOPE for individuals and families in 2022

My HOPE for individuals and families in 2022

mowing grass with dad

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

— Margaret Mead

 

As we reflect on 2021 and think about what we want for the new year ahead, I thought that it would be beneficial to share what I see families are missing, and might consider starting now and continuing into 2022.

Care for ourselves and others. Let’s all agree that we should move from being a spectator to being an active player. Recent headlines reflect our youth need us to show up for them unfortunately some of us are missing the boat. Begin by taking care of yourself. You can start with simple tasks like walking and/or drinking more water. 

We need to care for others by volunteering within our own neighborhoods.  It’s been my personal experience many public libraries need volunteers, or maybe you can donate to your local food bank. We need everyone to be involved in changing the landscape of what is around us.

The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.

Community makes us stronger

Community. When our family relationships are stronger our community is better and our state is better. Change always starts with us. 

For example, have you ever noticed when people first move into a new neighborhood they make the effort to keep their lawns manicured?  But then, it never fails there is THAT one house whose yard is in disarray. That house can make the value of all the other homes lower because it is not well kept. However, instead of complaining about the neighbor’s inadequacies, see how you can help. Is there a young person who can mow the lawn?  This is beneficial because you are teaching a child how to help others and the neighbor gets their lawn mowed. Now the neighbor and teen are connected into the community. Plus, the neighborhood is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, which brings home values back to where they should be. Everyone wins! Being a part of a community makes us feel as though we are a part of something greater than ourselves. 

Collaboration. Think about how you can add value to a local organization utilizing your gifts and talents. Believe it or not, this is why you were given your gifts!

At Georgia Center for Opportunity, we collaborate with a community of folks in the areas of education, employment, and family. Read more about our work and how its Not for self but for others” at georgiaopportunity.org.

 

Finding Focus and Direction with Better Work

Finding Focus and Direction with Better Work

Finding Focus and Direction with Better Work

graphic design intern

Finding Skilled and Teachable Talent

 

BETTER WORK is helping our neighbors find better work opportunities in Columbus. We care about facilitating life transformation and not only an initial job connection. We want local families to thrive, become self-sufficient, and find the dignity that comes from sustainable work. Good relationships play a huge role in this process. This is why open doors of opportunity and mentors are so important.

I want to share a story with you. This is the story of a young woman who was unsure of what she wanted to do. Rachel Guzman first reached out to BETTER WORK because she knew she wanted more, only she wasn’t sure what more was.

Today Rachel has greater focus and is finding her success! All she needed was others who believed in her to clear the way. She is performing well in a Graphic Design internship with Alexis M. Creative. Owner Alexis Lott recently shared the statement below.

“Finding Rachel and having her as a virtual digital assistant this year has changed my business for the better. Being a small business owner trying to run my digital marketing and coaching business by myself was exhausting. I knew that I had to make a move, and I was initially scared to hire someone as an intern, and finding Rachel was a true god-send. She graciously decided to work as an intern and within months I was able to hire her on a contract basis to help with my digital marketing needs.”

 

Rachel

“Finding Rachel and having her as a virtual digital assistant this year has changed my business for the better. Being a small business owner trying to run my digital marketing and coaching business by myself was exhausting. I knew that I had to make a move, and I was initially scared to hire someone as an intern, and finding Rachel was a true god-send. She graciously decided to work as an intern and within months I was able to hire her on a contract basis to help with my digital marketing needs.”

 

“I would love to have her full time hopefully in 2022 as my business expands. I am forever grateful to you (BETTER WORK Columbus) for helping me find skilled and teachable talent!”

Rachel has also been working with her mentor, Renee Lambert. Renee works with Rachel to help her overcome obstacles like insufficient transportation and is helping Rachel as she considers her long-term goals and short-term options to reach those goals. Rachel shared early on that she feels hopeful because of the support she receives from Renee. These obstacles may limit Rachel’s work options right now, but they aren’t slowing her down.

Rachel recently stated how much the internship means to her when she shared, “My internship at Alexis M. Creative Agency has been a great learning experience. To me, it’s not just an internship but an opportunity to learn and grow as a freelancer and entrepreneur.”

Candidates like Rachel Guzman have more hope because of partners like you. Whether you are an employer opening your door to give people second chances, a service provider offering needed resources, or a mentor cheering someone along their journey, your impact changes lives through BETTER WORK Columbus.

The Power of Community Connections

The Power of Community Connections

The Power of Community Connections

A belief in working together is key

 

BETTER WORK Columbus is connected with groups and organizations across the Chattahoochee Valley. These groups include both the Chattahoochee Valley Poverty Reduction Coalition (CVPRC) and the Mayor’s Commission on Reentry. A belief in working together in the local community as the key to eliminating poverty in our city is the common thread binding these groups together.  More specifically, the CVPRC holds a shared vision to reduce the poverty rate in the Chattahoochee Valley by 50% over the next 10 years.

BETTER WORK Program Manager, Kristin Barker, plays a leadership role in both of these groups. As forthcoming chair of the Reentry Commission, she works to identify key people in our community and bring them together to address the needs and concerns that impact individuals who are justice-involved. This is necessary to further the mission of preventing recidivism by strengthening cooperation and collaboration between law enforcement agencies, corrections and supervision entities, resource agencies, social service and non-profit organizations, faith-based non-profit organizations, community members, and other private and public stakeholders. Embedded in the group’s purpose is a focus on finding key people in the community and bringing them together to address the needs and concerns that impact individuals who are justice-involved.

 

The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.

Local Connections and National Partnerships

It is these local connections and national partnerships like Jobs for Life that will allow Columbus to discover the high-impact strategies needed to support families in poverty and connect them with resources that will move them toward self-sufficiency.

Find more information about the Chattahoochee Valley Poverty Reduction Coalition and the Mayor’s Commission on Reentry online.

Money Can’t Replace Meaning and Purpose

Money Can’t Replace Meaning and Purpose

Money Can’t Replace Meaning and Purpose

American poverty

Work has intrinsic value

Last month, I had the honor of participating in the Heritage Foundation’s annual Antipoverty Forum, where scholars and practitioners discussed the state of poverty in the country and the local efforts to confront the issue.

The discussion this year centered on the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better (BBB) bill that is now making its way through Congress and the ways in which the bill would undermine work by using much of its $2.4 trillion to expand safety net benefits and create new entitlements, all while eliminating work requirements.

Despite unemployment numbers dropping nearly to pre-pandemic lows in most states, what is not widely understood is that labor force participation (the number of people who are able to work and are actively looking for work) is much lower than when the pandemic began. Some 4-5 million people have effectively dropped out of the workforce – at least for now – despite record job openings (10.4 million in September).

While the drop in workforce numbers is partially explained by fear of COVID and mothers forced to stay home with children, much of it can only be explained as being caused by increased benefits (and the elimination of many requirements for qualifying), rescue-related payments and, now, monthly child tax credit payments. The BBB bill is very likely to make these trends and others, like inflation, worse.

Although we’re concerned that people are choosing not to work and agree that more money coming from Washington, DC, will make matters worse, my remarks reflected our concern at GCO about why worklessness harms the individual. Work is not merely about earning money; it has intrinsic value.

 

The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.

Championing a return to normalcy and healthy social interaction

Work provides each of us with an outlet for our God-given talents and creativity. It allows us to serve others and contribute to other individuals’ well-being in exchange for having our own needs met. More than that, it provides us with social capital and a network of colleagues and friends who can help us when we need it. Much research has also shown that worklessness leads to poor mental and physical health and can contribute to increased drug and alcohol abuse – the 100,000+ overdose deaths during the pandemic representing the latest example.

As our government wrestles with how to deal with the pandemic and sets its priorities, it should avoid anything that discourages employment and causes more isolation. For individual and societal health on every front, the government should be championing a return to normalcy and healthy social interaction – including at work – that allows the American people to be resilient during times of crisis.

Partnerships and Building Blocks Come Together in Columbus

Partnerships and Building Blocks Come Together in Columbus

Partnerships and Building Blocks Come Together in Columbus

Building a stronger network of resources

On November 4th, BETTER WORK Columbus hosted a reception to announce a new partnership with Jobs for Life to bring its proven curriculum and a nationally recognized program to help struggling people find meaningful, self-supporting work. During the event, Ryan Ray, President and CEO of Jobs for Life, shared his heart as well as the passion behind the Jobs for Life training program and the power it has to impact lives in a transformative way.

Problem:

In Columbus, 11,406 people are unemployed, despite more than 6,500 job openings. The problem is not an issue of availability but an issue of access. There are personal, educational, and systemic barriers that prevent some of our neighbors from working or thriving at their jobs. Without work, many begin to identify themselves with their circumstances which creates a vicious cycle of poverty—economically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Solution:

Our BETTER WORK Columbus team has already built a strong network of partnerships and has been using the Jobs for Life framework to recruit and train mentors. Now, we want to take this a step further by extending the network of support to Jobs for Life training sites in our community.

Our BETTER WORK Network has allied with Jobs for Life to help break the cycle of poverty and build up our communities. JFL sites are uniquely positioned to address the root causes of un- and under-employment by uniting churches, businesses, and community organizations and facilitating positive transformation within lives and communities. This model reinforces work as more than just a paycheck but a source of pride and dignity. It is designed to address the loss of identity which often accompanies unemployment.

We will join hands and work together to bring the change our community needs.

How can we work together?

It starts here! We will join hands and work together to bring the change our community needs.

If you live in the Columbus area, we need your help! You can: 

  • Champion a student through mentoring, 
  • help us with recruitment, 
  • hire a graduate, 
  • or simply celebrate with us. 

 

You may also choose to donate by giving online

Then send an email to kristin.barker@georgiaopportunity.org to have your gift support local Jobs for Life classes. Include your name and the subject line – “I donated to the BETTER WORK Network and Jobs for Life”.