Getting a job is hard.
Getting a job is even harder if you have to check the convicted felon box on the application.
TLC Ministries and Carolina Community Actions want to change that with a new program they've developed to teach computer and job skills to former offenders in the area.
The six-week program that starts this month also will address other problems that keep former inmates from being successful, such as hygiene and self-esteem, said Seth Crosby, CEO of City of Change and pastor at TLC Ministries.
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"We want to get these people employed and work with problems that are stopping them from the continuing employment," Crosby said.
Research shows that some former offenders return to jail because they can't keep a job, said Nona Grant, case manager/instructor for Carolina Community Actions. This program is to help break that cycle, she said.
"The whole program is just very simple activities that they can tackle one by one, that don't overwhelm them but will make a difference," Grant said. "I'm really excited; it should be an awesome program."
For now the program will help ready its students to complete applications online, make a resume, respond to management and keep a job, Crosby said.
He wants to expand it to include more specific job skills and to tackle other workplace challenges, such as transportation and childcare.
Local probation and parole agencies will help select the students to participate. Grant said the only qualification is that the former offender can't be convicted of a violent offense.
Initially the program will have four sessions, each with five participants, Grant said. The participant fills out a 6-page questionnaire that will help tailor the class to that person's needs, Grant said.
The three-hour class will be held three days a week at TLC Ministries on Annafrel Street, which has computer stations. When they're not in class, participants will have assignments to complete.
"It's not difficult, but does require something from them," Grant said. "We want to give them the foundation so when they get a job, we're not setting them up for failure."
The last phase allows participants to hear success stories from their peers.
"They can see it is possible," Grant said. "I never say it's not going to be hard, but it's possible."
The pilot year of the program is funded by a grant, but Grant said the program could use donations, including grooming items and clothing, as well more local employers willing to provide jobs. Interested donors can call 324-1594.