Work Express, a job-counseling service for low-income people, has expanded to offer its aid in Lee’s Summit.
Work Express is a program run by the Community Services League, an Independence-based social service agency.
Doug Cowan, president and CEO of the CSL, said the basic service started in 1995 but in 2013 it received $300,000 to add more counselors and offer the program in other communities.
He said the grant is for a period of three years. The agency is working on a model for generating revenue, where companies will call CSL looking for applicants, outlining the skills needed for the job, and CSL will match them with one of their clients, much like private-sector personnel agencies.
Last year the agency provided job counseling to 1,373 people in its service area, at offices in Independence, Blue Springs, Oak Grove, Grain Valley and Buckner, he said.
It is now reaching Lee’s Summit, Sugar Creek, Raytown.
Over the years it’s added more services as well.
“The comprehensiveness of the program has grown significantly,” Cowan said.
The grant financed by the Hall Family Foundation, the William T. Kemper Foundation and Victor E. Speas Foundation and Jenny and Reggie Chandra is expanding its reach, Cowan said.
It is adding three experienced, full-time job counselors and a data assistant to track the program.
The Lee’s Summit office opened in December, a caseworker is at the office 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 214 NW Chipman Road.
A ribbon cutting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. March 20 at that office.
The one-on-one job counselors serve as mentors and role models.
“We do anything we can to eliminate barriers to employment,” Cowan said.
Each coach has a caseload of 300-500 people.
DeAnna Hine, one of the career coaches, said the program is tailored to meet individual needs.
It could be as simple as polishing a resume. Or it could involve computer classes and interviewing skills. Financial assistance is available for car repairs, appropriate clothing for job interviews, temporary bus or taxi transportation, or even steel-toed boots or help paying for a commercial driver’s license.
“Some just need a bit of help, some need extreme assistance,” Hine said.
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