Catholic Charities of Central Colorado announced today their Life Skills & Career Development Center (LSCDC) has helped fill over 200 jobs in Colorado Springs, putting Marian House clients to work. Just two years ago, the Center was simply called the Computer Lab, but it gained its weightier name when Sherry Stulpin, Life Skills Instructor, and a group of volunteers began mentoring job seekers not only in computer skills, but in the skills needed to thrive in a job and in life. The first job filled occurred in July 2015 and it took until September 2016 to reach 100, so the pace has picked up as more clients and employers have discovered the program as the next 100 jobs were fill in just 9 months.
Most of the people seeking employment with Marian House are considered “the unemployable” or at the very least, the hardest segment of the population to employ due to high barriers such as homelessness, felonies, large gaps in employment history, or a history of job hopping/short-term employment, to name a few. This makes this milestone that much more remarkable. The Center is usually at capacity, helping eight or ten people each day. Main operating hours are 10:30 am – 1:00 pm for walk-ins, but the Center is open from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm for appointments. Thanks to the Downtown Rotary Club, plans are already in the works with Amnet and Firma IT to add seven more computers with software, bringing the total number of computer stations to twelve, which will help continue the accelerated pace of putting people to work.
Recently, Joel Fluegge joined the team as Marian House Community Services Manager, and together, he and Stulpin have successfully linked clients with local employers, usually having more job opportunities than trained clients to take available positions. Goodwill Industries conducts a hiring event at the Marian House every six weeks with pre-screened candidates and to date, have employed more than 25 people. Last fall, the first annual Marian House Job Fair was held on site where eight employers offered interview opportunities to help facilitate job connections. Another Job Fair is planned for November just before the holiday hiring season. Stulpin said, “For someone caught in the cycle of poverty, sometimes all it takes is a little personalized attention to begin taking the steps toward a better life.”
Once clients are ready to apply for jobs, most find work within three weeks, often using bus passes and wearing interview clothes provided by Catholic Charities. Those who need more time to hone their skills are placed in the Marian House Works program, where they are paired with volunteers for special attention or given volunteer work within Catholic Charities. Once they develop the necessary skills, the team works with them to obtain outside job placement.
What makes this program different from others is the personal follow-up that occurs within the first 30 – 45 days of employment with the employee as well as the employer. Stulpin said, “Sometimes the initial job pairing doesn’t work due to a mismatch of skills, transportation issues, or personality conflicts. When this happens, the client returns to Catholic Charities to work on these issues and we look for positions that might be a better fit. Once that initial period is past, it is up to them to make it all work.”
Fluegge said, “We have clients who return regularly to let us know how successful they are in their job placement as well as those who have left their positions and want to try again. To date, we estimated that of the clients who have chosen to remain in our community, about two thirds remain employed. Usually if they’ve lost a job, they come back and ask for our help.”
Andy Barton, Catholic Charities of Central Colorado CEO said, “The success of this program is emblematic of the work we are doing to help clients every day. Our Marian House Soup Kitchen is an important portal for transitioning families in crisis to link them to services that can help them build resiliency, and ultimately stability. It’s a meal to a job.”