EATON — On Tuesday, June 10, Job and Family Services hosted a Work Experience Program (WEP) appreciation lunch honoring businesses and facilities who participate in the program locally.
The Work Experience Program is aimed at helping those receiving public assistance in the form of cash or food assistance become more self-sufficient, improving their employability and prepare them for long term, sustainable employment.
Becky Sorrell opened the lunch thanking the businesses and facilities in attendance for helping develop a better workforce, allowing those in the program to discover working skills by helping them overcome adversity and develop skills to become more efficient, saying, “It might be not feel like you are making a difference but you are.”
Becky Webb, an Eligibility Referral Specialist with JFS, then handed each participating WEP site who was in attendance a plaque. Those businesses or entities included: the Village of Verona, Village of Lewisburg, Vancrest Health Care Center, Job and Family Services, Preble County Council of Aging, Preble County District Library, Oxford Free Clinic, the HIT Foundation, Hapner Landscaping, and Hand-in-Hand Adult Day Care.
Currently 32 different businesses, volunteer services, or other entities have an agreement with the Preble County WEP program to help develop working skills for those who qualify for the program, according to Webb.
The WEP sites are expected to work directly with Job and Family Services and provide a list of job functions that will be expected while participating in the program. The sites will then provide feedback to JFS who will attempt to place a person receiving assistance who is required to work for assistance with a job that interests them.
Those who participate in the program, the majority of whom receive food assistance, are required to work a predetermined amount of hours depending on a number of factors including, physical health, currently employment status and amount being received through public assistance programs.
According to information provided Job and Family Services, many of those who participate in the program may need training on “Soft Skills” or behavioral skills like showing up on time, dressing appropriately and effective communication.
Others, however, may just need a chance to discover the skills or confidence to perform job functions as evidenced by the numerous testimonials provided by WEP site representatives at the lunch.
One testimonial came from an individual who participated in WEP while being a single mother some 20 years ago.
She became a WEP worker at JFS and was told by supervisors to apply for an open position.
“I did whatever I could do, I did all the work for my services,” she said. “When a position at the front desk came open, some of supervisors told me I needed to go for the position. I thought, ‘I’ll never get that job’ and ‘I don’t know if I could do it, but if they have that much faith in the me I will go ahead and go for it,’ and I did, and I’ve been here 20 years.”
Currently, 189 people participate in the program locally and are striving to become better workers with a more self-sufficient future.
The program now also works closely with Sinclair Community College to help those in the program pursue GEDs if needed.
Any business or entity interested in joining the program as a WEP site should contact Erin Montgomery at 937-456-6205, extension 124, Shari Hoover at 937-456-6205, extension 151, or Sue Weber at 937-456-6205, extension 164.
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