Thursday, September 29, 2022

Two nonprofits merge to provide better service for job seekers

District Attorney Ben David, left, along with organization leaders, unveil the banner of a new organization to help those in need find jobs, Photo by Christina Haley.
District Attorney Ben David, left, along with organization leaders, unveil the banner of a new organization to help those in need find jobs. Photo by Christina Haley.

Two non-profit organizations dedicated to helping those in need find employment opportunities, have merged  to form one organization to provide a better service for the Cape Fear region.

Hometown Hires, a program previously under the United Way of the Cape Fear Area, has joined Phoenix Employment Ministry to have a greater impact on the local community, District Attorney Ben David announced during a press conference Wednesday. The new entity, which has formed under the new name Phoenix Hometown Hires, will serve the area from a future space located on fourth floor of the Harrelson Center at 20 N. 4th St. in downtown Wilmington.

“Nothing reduces crime, increases public safety and brings about family stability more than getting people into good paying jobs,” David said. “This effort brings together justice officials, business leaders, heads of non-profits, and members of the faith-based community to make lasting, positive change in our region.”

The space, which is currently under construction, is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, according to Vicki Dull, executive director of the Harrelson Center. But while the space is under construction, Phoenix Hometown Hires will immediately begin working to help people reach employment, David said.

“A decade ago this very space was a jail. Now it’s a place of hope. Doing justice means more than punishing; it means uplifting the poor. From this formally desperate place – the site of so much wasted potential – real opportunity emerges. This combined organization…will be at the very heartbeat of this Harrelson Center,” David said.

Hometown Hires is an initiative developed by David, and Live Oak Bank CEO Chip Mahan, to help people in low-income or no-income situations find jobs that would help transition them back into the workplace through partnerships with local employers.

With the merger, Phoenix Hometown Hires will lead to better employment opportunities, increased stability and a renewed sense of hope throughout our communities, Henry Cherry, president of the Board of Directors for the hiring program, said. Business leaders and donors believe having one organization to hire from and one organization to fund is beneficial for the Wilmington community, he added.

According to the Phoenix Hometown Hires’ website, part of the organizations’ pursuit to help people find jobs is a 32-hour weeklong employment training workshop to teach participants the skills needed to find and sustain employment. Participants are also paired with an on-staff counselor for support.

In addition to the jobs program, area participants can learn life skills, including budgeting, credit restoration, goal-setting, and more, in a 12-week series offered by the organization.

Rev. Don Skinner founded Phoenix Employment Ministry in October 2002 to serve men and women from critical and challenging situations, such as homelessness, poverty, long-term unemployment, and rehabilitation, according to the organizations’ website. Over the years, the company evolved and expanded to include both employment assistance and life skills training.

Since its inception, the Phoenix Employment Ministry has helped find more than 750 people – with all sorts of barriers – find jobs, Skinner said.

In 2014 alone, the organization helped 89 people find jobs with 78 different companies that hired them, according to Will Rikard, executive director of Phoenix Hometown Hires.

Participants must fill out a brief application as well as pass a drug test and have no pending criminal charges before the service can address the individual’s desires and needs on a case by case basis, Rikard said.

The non-profit works within an annual budge of more than $400,000 though grants, donations and contracts, Rikard said. The organizations’ five-year goal – in its merger with Hometown Hires – is to increase its potential to serve the community by gaining enough funds to support 10 to 11 full-time employees. Currently, the organization has five full-time and two part-time employees.

“This is about the people we serve…this is about folks in the community who need opportunities,” Rikard said. “Bringing Phoenix and Hometown Hires together, is going to provide better opportunities for those folks, it’s going to provide hope, and it’s going to create opportunities for people that this community has not seen.”

As the program grows, the organization hopes to make a lasting difference in the region for years to come, David said.

“To people searching for work, please walk through our doors,” David said. “For employers, look no further than Phoenix Hometown Hires; you should expect the best when you’re working with us.”

For more information about Phoenix Hometown Hires visit the organization’s website.

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