The Crawfish Festival in April, at the Coast Coliseum marked the beginning of Spring and the festival season. Many of our guests who have found regular work have found Labor Finders (located over the bridge in D’Iberville, Mississippi) to be a great place to jump-start their pathways back into the workforce. Labor Finders has placed many of our guests in food service, construction, putting up and taking down performance venues and carnivals, catering on the area’s four military bases, and even the seemingly never-ending road construction taking place here on the Back Bay and East Biloxi neighborhoods.
During the months of April, May, and June, thirteen guests applied for openings in jobs ranging from general labor spot jobs to a variety of food service positions. Of those thirteen applicants, nine have secured jobs, but just a few of these could be called steady jobs.
Job readiness activities are ongoing, in preparation for the EmployAbility Job Fair, June 28, 2017, at the Lyman, Mississippi, Community Center, sponsored jointly by several state agencies concerned with employment opportunities for Mississippians with disabilities. Here in the Day Center, our guests have ongoing help with applications, resumes, cover letters, and other preparations for employment.
Jona Burton, Coordinator of the Career Center at the University of Southern Mississippi at Gulf Park, has volunteered to visit the day center once a month, for two hours, to lead workshops for job seeking and job readiness. The first workshop will take place on Friday, June 30, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. and will cover the basics of writing resumes and cover letters, how dress for interviews, how to speak with a prospective employer, and how to master a 60-second “elevator pitch.”
With partners in our area, we offer several services to support those who want to return to the workforce:
- Goodwill – vouchers for work clothing and shoes
- Back Bay Mission – limited bus passes for proven job reporting
- Hope Credit Union – fees waived for first-time homeless clients who become employed, auto-deposit of earnings, limited withdrawals
- Computer stations donated by generous volunteers, placed in the day center for job searching, job applications
- Daily assistance available for resumes, references, and cover letters
Our guests face many obstacles: transportation, stable housing, suitable work clothes, regular laundry and personal care and hygiene, just to name a few. Returning to work is not simple – it takes a concerted focused effort to start rebuilding a kind of muscle needed to strengthen a life that has fallen on hard times. We do a good job of supplying showers four mornings and laundry three mornings a week. But this barely moves the mountains facing our guests every day. Building up to a job with a living wage can take a very long time.
An efficient monthly bus pass costs over $50.00, and can take several days of labor to purchase along with food, rough shelter, and other basic needs. Securing housing and all the necessary deposits can take a very long time in this area where there are no overnight and transitional shelters for our average guest.