Residents in rural settings commonly face long hauls to work and depend on their vehicles due to a lack of public transportation. Thus, if they are not easily able to afford gasoline and car-repair costs, their job statuses could become endangered.
Enter Catholic Charities of Livingston County to provide assistance. Tabitha Brewster, executive director, said that in recent years the agency has placed a growing emphasis on helping people become and stay employed, at times using funds derived from the Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal.
How effective has this effort been? According to Brewster, as of early November, the Mount Morris-based agency had already helped some 82 people find or keep jobs in 2016.
“It’s a nice thing to be able to help people who are really trying to gain that level of self-sufficiency,” she remarked, adding that folks seeking such assistance run the gamut in terms of age, marital status, income level and financial need.
“We serve all kinds,” she said.
Brewster noted that Catholic Charities’ services focusing on employment include budget counseling; where to search for employment opportunities; how to apply for jobs; how to remain employed; dressing for success; how to work with a difficult boss; and when to ask for help.
In addition, Catholic Charities offers direct payment assistance in such areas as rent, security deposits, utility payments, transportation and vehicle-repair costs, and insurance payments. All of this financial support, Brewster said, is “directly related to helping people search for employment or to keep the job.”
“It’s our job to help people stay focused on employment-related goals by helping with goal-setting and then alleviating financial burdens that could prevent someone from continuing to work,” she explained.
Also in the area of employment, Catholic Charities partners with the Livingston County Office of Workforce Development in a contracted program through the county’s Department of Social Services. Among the offerings from that initiative are GED classes, English as a second language classes, job readiness training, job search assistance and work experience placement.
Brewster said Catholic Charities not only helps people in employment matters, but also assists those individuals in “working toward whatever else needs to be fixed” to bring stability to their lives.
Overall, Catholic Charities annually serves thousands of people from the mostly rural Livingston County area. The office, established in 1992 as a rural outreach, became a regional Catholic Charities facility in 1995. It is among several such regional offices throughout the Diocese of Rochester, all of which receive Christmas Appeal funding.
“We’re kind of like that hub of emergency services. People migrate to Catholic Charities first, to figure out what or who can help them. These people know they can get the advice they need in order for them to move forward,” Brewster said. “When they come here, they know they’re not going to be judged.”