Jul 26, 2010

Dateline NBC special focuses on poverty in southern Ohio

Dateline NBC’s Sunday, July 25 program provided a look at the many challenges facing people living in poverty today. The program featured several people from Athens County and southeastern Ohio who have a very difficult time just meeting their basic needs of food and shelter. We appreciate that Dateline NBC chose to come to Athens County in order to show people around the country how the poor have been hurt by the country’s economic downturn.

The stories shown on Dateline NBC are heartbreaking, as the people interviewed face numerous obstacles and are in nearly impossible situations.

What is even more heartbreaking, though, is that there are countless other people in Athens County, in southeastern Ohio and all across the country who are facing similar economic hardships and despair. People all across America are living in poverty and facing numerous challenges that make it nearly impossible to improve their financial situations.

We appreciate how people like Lisa Roberts and Rhonda Bentley are doing so much in Athens County to help those who are living in need. At the same time, people should not have to wait in lines for food. Our country’s cash assistance and food assistance programs need to provide adequate assistance so that people are able go to grocery stores and buy their own food for their own homes.

The Dateline NBC program is posted on the Dateline NBC website, which is located at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032600. The website also features additional footage that did not make it into the program from people around southeastern Ohio.

If you would like to contact the Friends and Neighbors Community Food Center and/or its director, Lisa Roberts, call 877-223-7161 or log onto http://www.friends-n-neighbors.org/.

If you would like to contact Rhonda Bentley and the Nelsonville Community Center, call (740) 753-4100.

If you would like to contact the Second Harvest Foodbank in Logan, call (740) 385-6813 or (800) 385-6813.

Jul 14, 2010

Participants in the Subsidized Summer Youth Employment Program are thankful for their jobs

Amanda Pickering, 24, of Glouster, and Katlyn Jenkins, 14, of Glouster, are both working in the Athens County Subsidized Summer Youth Employment Program and enjoying the experience.

“I love it,” said Jenkins, who is working with the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) at the Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action Program (HAPCAP). In her job, she takes calls, makes reports, sends faxes and assists with office work. “I’ve learned a lot,” Jenkins said.

Pickering, meanwhile, works for HAPCAP’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs and has been doing jobs like making fliers, copying papers, planning a movie day for children and working on different projects.

“I love kids,” she said, explaining some of the reasons she likes her job. She also enjoys office work, and said she has done this type of work before.

“I’m always doing something. I’m never just sitting around,” Pickering added. “My days go by very quickly.” As a parent, the pay is also very important for her to help care for her family. Pickering said she has worked since she was 15 years old, and she is thankful to have this job now.

Jenkins added that the educational workshops and seminars that are part of the summer employment program have also been important. She has attended discussions on topics such as sexual harassment and taxes, and said they have been very informative. She is also thankful that the program provides funding to pay for the gas it takes to drive to and from work every day, and also provides lunches for the employees. The job coaches have also been a key part of the program, as they provide assistance and guidance with the work the participants are doing.

“They help a lot,” Jenkins said.

Jul 8, 2010

Program provides summer jobs for teenagers and young adults

Nearly 140 local teenagers and young adults are gaining work experience, taking part in educational programs and earning a steady paycheck this summer through The Athens County Subsidized Summer Youth Employment Program. The program, which is being run by Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action Program (HAPCAP) and Athens County Job and Family Services, is funded through the federal government’s economic stimulus package.

The employment program is providing summer jobs to 138 Athens County residents between the ages of 14-24. All positions have been filled and there is a waiting list for any positions that open up during the summer. The program's 40 work sites all across the county provide jobs in fields such as the arts, animal care, building and grounds maintenance, community and social services, education, library science, and office and administration support.

“HAPCAP is very excited to be a partner in this program. Many participants in the program have demonstrated initiative, motivation and pride to be working in the communities in which they live. For some, this is their first job and it is rewarding to see how they are developing work and life skills that they can take with them for their rest of their lives. Others are building on previous work experiences while helping to support their families,” said Jessica Stroh, employment and economic development director for HAPCAP. The employment program has received excellent support from the participants and their family members, and from the work sites and businesses that are working with the program, Stroh added.

Nickie Bailes, who lives near Coolville, is working as a job coach for the program and said it has been a good experience for her and for the young adults she works with. The young adults have all been working hard at their jobs and they are learning a great deal, she said.

“Having a job and having this responsibility is really helpful for them,” Bailes added. “A lot of them want to continue working.” She has also seen the participants become more motivated with their work throughout the summer.

For Bailes, serving as a job coach has been a good learning experience that will also be another positive item for her resume.

“I like it,” she said about serving as a job coach. “It gives you the opportunity to solve problems from a different angle.”

Additional posts will feature comments from several of the program participants