With the goal of helping folks transition out of poverty and homelessness to independent living, the Mustard Seed hosted an Employment Readiness Fair on Aug. 28th.
“Our guests frequently experience barriers to employment when reintegrating into the workforce,” said Byron Bradley, managing director of the local Mustard Seed. “At the Employment Readiness Fair, our guests can learn new skills, but also build professional connections with one another,” he said.
Agencies and organizations on hand included Diversified Staffing Services, MC College, Dress for Success Central Alberta and the Career Assistance Network.
“We are grateful for all of the organizations that came out for this event. Many of our guests don’t know what it’s like to write a resume or how to dress and prepare for an interview, so this experience is incredibly valuable for many of them,” he said. “We aim for our guests to live independently, and to do that, we need to give our guests the tools to be employable.”
Susan Robinson, a wellness advocate at the Mustard Seed, said the event also offered the services of employment coaches who could help with job searches, resumes and cover letters.
“Today’s premise is to help people prepare for employment,” she said, noting this marks the first time the Mustard Seed in Red Deer has held this type of event.
“It’s for the community as well, not just those who access services at the Mustard Seed,” she said, adding that the feedback she heard during the course of the afternoon was very encouraging.
“We’ve had five or six people do resumes, job searches and apply for jobs today. They’ve also gotten information on how to get certificates for different industries. It’s been really good.
“We come across a lot of people who have been out of work for long periods of time,” said Robinson. “Trying to get back into the workforce can be kind of daunting at times in just knowing where to go and who to reach out to,” she said.
“Hopefully after this, they have a little more confidence.”
Those who took part were pleased with the event as well.
“It’s a bit hard with my age, as I am 60 years old,” said Kerry, a guest at the Mustard Seed. “I came to Red Deer thinking there were jobs here, but it’s been tough over the last several years. I had been out of work since the winter, and today, (the Mustard See Employment Coach) is helping me with a cover letter and a resume.”
Current programs at the Mustard Seed include the serving of meals Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with doors opening at 5 p.m. Supper is at 6 p.m. and the Seed then closes at 7 p.m.
There are Bible studies on Mondays from 4:15 to 5 p.m. and a prayer meeting each Wednesday from 4:15 to 5 p.m. as well.
Advocacy hours runs Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Those interested can book an appointment in person or call 403-347-1844 (ask for a wellness advocate).
Wellness advocates can help with ID, resume/employment support, housing support and health support.
Donation hour are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 6:30 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Staff are always on the lookout for volunteers as well. For more about how to help out, email email@example.com.
In the meantime, Dagmar Hargreaves of Dress For Success said it was a joy to be a part of the Employment Readiness Fair.
Dress For Success Central Alberta has been in operation since October of 2008.
Being able to connect with folks at the Employment Readiness Fair was a tremendous opportunity, she said.
“For us, it’s twofold. It’s to familiarize individuals with the services that we provide, and to work with other community partners which I think is always important,” she said.
“We had several ladies earlier in the afternoon come and talk to us about what we do, and I’m hoping that when they are ready to start job searching that they will access the services we have.
“We were very pleased to be asked (to participate),” she said.
“From our perspective, this was good because we were also able to meet the folks from the Mustard Seed who could potentially refer to us, and also some of those who come here for support were able to pick up some information about what we do and how it works,” she said. “Tbey are excited.”
Hargreaves said she continually sees the smiles of ladies’ faces when they leave Dress For Success with a great outfit that really bolsters their confidence level.
“If you feel like you look good on the outside, you always feel better on the inside.”