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Employment support group seeks business-minded mentors

Posted: August 2, 2012 - 11:08pm
Irene Gallion, a member of the board of directors for LOVE, Inc., speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce at the Moose Lodge on Thursday about a 8-week training program called 'Jobs for Life,' for people unemployed or underemployed.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Irene Gallion, a member of the board of directors for LOVE, Inc., speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce at the Moose Lodge on Thursday about a 8-week training program called 'Jobs for Life,' for people unemployed or underemployed.

Irene Gallion asked attendees of the Chamber of Commerce lunch lectures series, and all business leaders in Juneau, to step up and mentor struggling workers.

Gallion is a board member of Love INC, a church-based non-profit which offers social services that fill gaps in private and government services.

She told the chamber that Love INC’s Jobs for Life (goo.gl/ePHxw) program offers employment training to workers who face barriers that come from their style of speech, clothing or attitude.

“This class takes students on a journey — a journey to discover who they are, their unique value, and what roadblocks and obstacles they need to overcome,” according to the group’s website.

Gallion called on business leaders to take part as mentors and panel members at Job for Life classes beginning in October. She said her program needs business leaders from a broad range of business types. Of the students who take the classes, Gallion said, “these are people coming to you for jobs.”

Gallion said Jobs for Life classes are split into several sections.

“The first one is a business roundtable,” Gallion said. “We have a panel of businesses and students get to ask them questions.” These questions range from simple and straightforward — what do you like about your job? What kind of people are you looking for? — to questions that give students and business leaders a chance to learn.

“How should I deal with my criminal history,” Gallion said as an example. “I have a restraining order with someone who is extremely violent, how do I bring that up with a potential employer?” Or, “I have a child who is fatally ill, what are your family leave policies and when do I start asking about that in this process?”

After addressing some of the specific concerns of the students, the class begins to work on student interview skills.

“We do interview speed dating,” Gallion said.

Students participate in a 15 minute interview, then the mentor and the interviewer debrief the student “on what they did well and what they need a little bit of improvement on,” Gallion said.

Students will rotate through about three interviews per evening.

The process is “really fun if you are a mentor, very satisfying,” Gallion said.

Gallion said Love INC splits its response to poverty into three phases — response, rehabilitation and recovery.

“So response is put food in the baby’s mouth,” Gallion said. “The baby is hungry.”

Rehabilitation looks at what is going on in a person’s life that results in them being unable to extract themselves from poverty.

“Is it something external, like [hurricane] Katrina that comes through and wipes out your home? Well, what are you going to do about that?” Gallion said. “Or is it that you do not have the right job skills, are you unable to communicate correctly is there something about your persona or attitude that is not coming across or is not allowing you to succeed in this field.”

“This puts you onto the road to recovery,” Gallion said. A person in this phase can still be vulnerable.

“They can still fall off the horse,” Gallion said. “But now they are on their way to success.”

Now that these folks have a job and are making an amount of money that they may not have made before, the question becomes, “How do you manage it appropriately?” Gallion said.

Jobs for Life plans to offer a new class in the near future to help those on the road to recovery with money management.

“We hope to be offering [the class] in the middle of September,” Gallion said.

Business owners don’t need to volunteer just for altruistic reasons, Gallion said. “They’ll get an employee who won’t just get the job, but who is interested in staying in that job and bringing value to the company,” Gallion said. “It’s not just getting a job, it’s making a career and being part of a community,” Gallion said.

Jobs for Life begins training on Oct. 17. It meets weekly on Monday and Thursday nights, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

For more information contact Love INC at 780-4090.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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