House Manufacturing Caucus Hears Juanita Pasley from Youngstown’s United Methodist Community Center

Sep 11, 2014 Issues: Helping Working Families

Washington, D.C. – At the invitation of Congressman Tim Ryan, Juanita Pasley, Executive Director of the United Methodist Community Center, briefed the House Manufacturing Caucus yesterday on the work being done to help veterans of both Mahoning and Trumbull Counties secure employment. As part of the caucus panel titled Putting Our Veterans to Work in Manufacturing, Pasley pointed out that there are more than 43,500 veterans who live in the Youngstown-Warren area, and over 24,000 of those are under the age of 64, providing a good base for potential employers.

 

For video click here

 

“I want to thank Juanita for taking the time and effort to come to Washington, D.C. and sharing the story of her work,” said Congressman Tim Ryan. “Juanita and the United Methodist Community Center are providing our veterans with the skills necessary to find the best job opportunities. This is an important cause, especially for veterans that live in our cities and often need more resources and support after their military service.” 

“My staff and I are proud to assist veterans through their journey of returning and reintegrating into the workforce,” said Juanita Pasley. “The inner-city veteran often returns with little or no family or community support, and faces high unemployment and high crime rates within their community. Our goal is to help veterans and their families return to a caring community filled with promise.”

Juanita joined Mary Emily Slate, Vice President and General Manager of Nucor Steel, located in Auburn, NY, and Ryan Gallucci, Deputy Director for National Veterans Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in presenting to the House Manufacturing Caucus, which serves to educated Congressional members and staff on the importance of manufacturing to the nation.

For text of Ms. Pasley’s presentation, click here:

I am here today to provide you with a Community based perspective of how the United Methodist Community Center assists veterans through their journey of returning and reintegrating into the workforce and a caring community.

A quick look at the current job market provides a sobering picture of anyone looking for work. Unemployment rates are high, underemployment is a common problem. All of this information may paint a dire picture for veterans returning from active duty, especially those being discharged as a part of drawdown of U.S. operations in the Middle East.

However, the good news is, there are certain industries experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, which means there are untapped sectors where jobs are plentiful. One of them is manufacturing. Fortunately for the veterans, this congress is dedicated to connecting employers involved in the manufacturing industry with veterans in need of jobs.

Returning veterans tend to be older and more geographically dispersed than generations preceding them.  They are very proud individuals who find difficulty in asking for help.  According to the American Fact Finder, in 2010 more than 43,500 veterans still call Youngstown and Warren, Ohio their home, of these, over 24,000 are currently under the age of 64, providing a good base for potential employees.

Despite the public awareness of the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars, there are challenges facing returning veterans and their families that are often invisible to their local communities and employers.

The Mahoning Valley sees two types of returning veterans; those who return to rural or suburban areas and those who return to urban/inner-city areas.  The veteran returning to the rural or suburban area typically has family and community support.  90% return to previous employment or find new employment quickly when pointed in the direction of the manufacturing and industrial sites that have relocated to suburban areas.  The urban or inner-city veteran returns with little or no family or community support, thus becoming the homeless or chronically homeless Veteran. The inner-city veteran faces high unemployment rates and high crime rates within the community living beneath the federal poverty level. In Mahoning County there are 4,918 veterans out of 20,000 living in poverty.  There is no industry or manufacturing.  There is little to no transportation for employment searches, appointments with their local Veterans Administration Commission or Clinicor the Ohio Means Jobs.  This veteran is at a high risk for drug and alcohol abuse and suicide, which presents a further barrier when trying to obtain employment.

Manufacture and employment services need to have a holistic plan that includes intensive individual assessment, diverse recruitment, housing, financial counseling, mentoring, substance abuse, mental health and legal services.  Local businesses must be more than a resource to this process.  Keep in mind that industries are able and willing to employ veterans, however, they don’t know how.  As a part of the holistic approach the manufacturing industry must be educated and a part of the planning process.

How can manufacturers and veterans be linked together?

·       Town halls driven by local legislators; where the public, manufacturers, and veterans are able to provide input as to how to help veterans to secure employment.

·       Solutions need to be attainable by the people who need them most.  The plan must be tailored to the population being served.

·       A location for manufacturers to go where there is training in the needs, barriers, and skills of veterans.  For example, some barriers many veterans face are:

·       Difficulty sleeping

·       Depression

·       Anxiety

·       Difficulty concentrating

·       Attention deficit issues

·       Difficulty making decisions

·       Anger Management

·       Substance and Alcohol Abuse

Case management is the heart of our UMCC Ready Workforce Program, and the cornerstone of our success with veterans.  Our case managers build trust and respect, are knowledgeable about community resources, are trained in trauma, and have connections to resources needed to assist our veterans and their families.

UMCC delivers its employment services through in-house paid staff in both Trumbull and Mahoning Counties.  Our Ready Workforce Program served 197 Homeless and Chronically Homeless veterans, 115 of veterans were placed in meaningful jobs.  The average hourly wage secured was $9.00 and up per hour and 58.4% of placements remain employed at the ninety day post placement date. Placements do include GM, Galaxy and other sites.

UMCC uses a holistic twelve step plan for employment including the following:

·       Active outreach (soup kitchens, rescue missions, shelters, VA Clinic commission offices and other areas known to the local homeless community) (McDonald’s?)

·       Culturally & economically diverse recruitment in the community setting

·       Ongoing engagement with community resources

·       Enduring relationships with local industry with a clear understanding of employer expectation and need such as the Employer Lunch ‘N’ Learn

·       Employment resources (Ohio Means Jobs)

·       Emergency services such as food, clothing, utility assistance for Veterans and their families ( SSVF Grant –Supportive Services for Veteran Families)

·       Housing, affordable or adequate

·       Transportation

·       Legal services such as veterans treatment court, child support, and driver’s license reinstatement

·       Individual case management which includes Individual Assessment, HUD-VASH tools that are assessment based and Work Keys testing

·       Vigilantly tracking client outcomes

·       After care follow up for employment retention must continue to service them after the grant period.

I commend you legislators for the funds that are allocated to services for veterans and their families, however, there are challenges for smaller, grassroots community based agencies when it comes to receiving these funds and grant retention.  Smaller agencies compete with larger agencies who have more personnel, and who can reach more geographical space.  Smaller agencies, while unable to reach such large geographical spaces, can and do reach more veterans, providing more intensive, holistic services; services our veterans need. We are currently waiting to hear from DOL on SSVF Grant submitted earlier this summer. We also are sponsoring a Stand Down funded by DOL.

The UMCC has plans for a Drop-In Center, following national Best Practices, and implementing the eight values set by the Veteran Center in New York.  These values are;

·       Veteran & Family Focused – the center exists to serve veterans and their families, no matter the veterans status

·       Culturally Competent Mission Driven – employ staff who understand the military culture, fitting with the UMCC’s long history of providing services with a mission to teach, develop, and empower individuals and their families

·       Barrier Free – staff and families, manufacturers and communities  will work together to remove as many barriers as possible to meet planned goals

·       Coordinated & Clear – the staff is a wealth of information and coordinate with partners needed to provide health and wellness services seamlessly

·       Complement, Don’t Duplicate – An array of services built around what our community partners provide already

·       Active Outreach & Engagement – Reaching those who need services is a priority, however, engaging and educating the community is also important

·       Performance Oriented – An active plan articulated and achievable goals keep the program focused

Learning Organization – Flexible in approach in order to meet the needs of our Veterans.  Ongoing evaluation of the program, ensuring needs are met.  Staff continuing education to maintain practice-based research and research-based practice.

Working together; communities, manufacturers, agencies, legislators, and veterans will be able to provide our veterans and their families in returning to caring communities filled with promise.

Thank you