Poverty often impacts a family for generations because it is a difficult cycle to break, but one program is seeing success.
The program is called Connections to Success and it helps people not only find jobs, but good jobs that earn livable wages.
Many have heard the saying, "if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime." The idea at Connections to Success is similar. They are trying to give men and women the tools to become financially independent by giving them hope, resources and a plan.
One aspect of the program provides an outfit for men and women to wear to job interviews through a boutique unlike many others because it has no price tags.
"It's a very unique opportunity. After you complete the class, they bring you in so you can get fitted for a suit. You get the feel of being in a boutique that a lot of women don't get to feel," Nicole Walker, a participant and now a mentor, said.
A volunteer stylist dresses women from head to toe by handpicking an outfit they can wear to interviews. It's part of the process to get unemployed or underemployed women a hand up, not a hand out.
"That transformation at that moment to see. When you look good you feel good. It helps with that extra confidence walking into an interview. It helps level the playing field in the job interview process. We've seen tears of joy, actually," Connections to Success Regional Director Brandi Jahnke said.
The organization has a men's boutique as well, offering business suits for interviews.
"It's hard to get a job if you don't have clothing to wear. A lot of times if you come out of prison you just have the clothes on your back," Robert Sanders with Connections to Success said.
Once participants get a job, they are also given five outfits to begin their work wardrobe.
"We know that they are getting jobs, and they are keeping jobs, and we are seeing an increase in wages in the first six months," Jahnke said.
Sanders participated in the program. He now mentors others. He also offers transportation to participants to get them job interviews.
"It's huge because most people that are unemployed and underemployed don't have transportation," he said.
The organization also offers work skills training on computers as well as GED classes and parenting classes for families.
"We give guys the tools and the necessary encouragement to reconnect with their kids," said Cleotis Cobbins, a facilitator for Connections to Success.
Sanders said he's now a better parent and person, and he hopes to help others make the same changes. He said without the program his success would be unclear.
"(I'd) probably still be looking for a job. There are a lot of jobs that can't or won't hire ex-felons. Because of this program, it has offered me an opportunity to be able to take care of me and my children," he said.
The organization's long list of services aims to break down any barriers people typically find when trying to find a job after being incarcerated, the victim of domestic violence or are trying to overcome generational poverty.
Friday at 12:30 p.m., Connections to Success will hold a graduation ceremony for a group of men who have completed the class for fathers. They are currently looking for mentors and volunteers to help sort donations.
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