‘100 Jobs’ Pledge for North Lawndale Community

By: Blanca Flores

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - BusinessOld St. Patrick’s Church and the North Lawndale Kinship Initiative have a new challenge going on through Labor Day. Their goal is to get 100 pledges to employ people from the North Lawndale community on Chicago’s West Side. The underemployment rates are high and the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN), as well as other partner organizations of St. Patrick’s, is working to assist members in the community find employment.

“Sometimes it doesn’t matter what your name is and what type of education you have, a zip code can define whether or not you will get hired for a job,” said Vincent L. Guider, director of Community Engagement at St. Patrick’s.

The purpose of this kinship is to expand relationships and give people the opportunity to work. Both the Kinship Initiative and the North Lawndale Employment Network are working together to get community members employed and involved with their community.

NLEN has different mentoring programs that prepare and support clients that need to gain job readiness skills and want a second chance. Their flagship program, U-Turn Permitted, helps people that want to turn their life around. Those enrolled in the program show up every day and are supervised, making sure that they arrive on time to their training sessions.

Brenda Palms Barber, executive director of NLEN, says, “It is important to forgive and give second chances, there are many people out there willing to work.”

Barber and Guider agree that community members are excited and filled with hope.
Barber described the initiative as lifeline for the North Lawndale community and said,
“Even if the job that they get is not what they want, the clients have an opportunity to make money to provide for their families and for themselves. They also learn to make new connections and later on they can move and find a job that interests them.”

The top three job industries that people are going into after NLEN’s programs are hospitality, manufacturing and food service. Unfortunately, the 100 jobs challenge is aimed for people 18 and older, but Guider is working to get a program started to help youth find employment next year. Currently, NLEN is partnered up with the Greater West Town Project providing internships for youth.

Employers willing to give positions to workers can contact Vincent L. Guider for more information at (312) 798-2374 or email vincentg@oldstpats.org. Anyone interested in volunteering with the North Lawndale Employment Network can call (773)638-1825 or visit www.nlen.org for more information.

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