“Take Charge!” a program through Sheffield Place to provide employment, personal financial management, and computer skills to homeless mothers, launched is fall session of 20 weeks in August. It resumed in August with the four week segment on securing and retaining employment.
During the first four weeks, the mothers learned about resumes, cover letters, interviews, thank you letters, appropriate post-interview follow up, and basic skills for the job – punctuality, teamwork, work performance, and other matters. The mothers had the opportunity to put their job search skills to practical use in two ways:
First, three of the mothers who were looking for work attended a large job fair. They polished their resumes and selected appropriate clothes from the clothes closet, and received guidance from the staff on how to interact with employers at the event. They received transportation to and from the job fair. The event provided an important experience for the women. By participating, they received a number of job leads. Just as important, they gained important new skills for their job searches and a sense of confidence and achievement.
Second, these mothers and five others also participated in mock interviews that we held two weeks later. Each mother had the opportunity to participate in three 10 minute interviews with volunteers experienced in human resources. After each interview, the mothers received feedback. The mothers found this experience to be very helpful in increasing their interviewing skills and gaining a new level of comfort with the job search process.
At the beginning of September, we started the FDIC Money Smart Curriculum. To date the mothers have learned about the differences between banks and the alternative banking system (money orders, checking cashing and payday loan shops), have learned how to open a checking account and how to reconcile it, and have learned how to establish or repair credit. Basic math, including percentages, continue to be a struggle for some of the mothers. The 10 session curriculum will be taught over the course of 12 weeks to allow plenty of time to review concepts.
Sheffield Place greatly appreciates the support of the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City in making this important program available to the mothers we serve.