Career coaching breeds opportunity in Mesquite

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To date, The Salvation Army’s workforce program in Mesquite, Nevada, has assisted over 30 participants.

By JoAnna Haugen –

Christina Anguiano, a case manager for the Mesquite Service Center, helps those whose resources have been exhausted.

When Stephanie Woolley was 17 years old, she was a single mother living with friends. A grant program helped her complete high school and pay for vocational education, job training and child care.

Now the tables have turned, and Woolley works as a full-time career coach for the Workforce Connections One Stop Shop, one of the many programs provided by The Salvation Army in Mesquite, Nevada. “If it wasn’t for that grant, I honestly don’t know where my daughter and I would be right now,” she said. “I feel so privileged to now be able to help others have a better life and to share my story with them to give them hope for a better future.”

Stephanie Woolley, a Workforce Connections career coach, works for vocational education and job training for clients.

In October 2016, the workforce program received a $360,000 grant, which financially assists youth ages 16–24 who are still enrolled in school, out-of-school youth up to age 24 who have either dropped out of school or not received a diploma or GED, and adults over the age of 24 who are unemployed or have other economic contributors of need. The program can enroll 65 participants per year—five in-school youth, 20 out-of-school youth and 40 adults—who matriculate through the program by application, assessment and training.

Though focused on helping participants achieve employment with livable wages and on-the-job training, the program also provides supportive services that can make all the difference in being able to follow through as a successful employee. For in-school youth, this may include help paying for advanced placement exams, field trips offering exposure to a variety of careers and bus passes. The program provides tutoring and study skills development, and teaming up with local businesses allows participants to receive paid work experience. Additionally, funding is available to assist with minor car repairs, uniforms, work cards, child care and other similar expenses that may stand in the way of gainful employment.

To date, the workforce program has assisted five in-school youth, six out-of-school youth and 20 adult participants, and it has already proven to be a pivotal professional turning point, offering solid footing on a path leading toward meaningful—and local—job prospects.

Monique, an in-school youth, is one recent example: An Operation Healthcare Bound program hosted by a local hospital allowed her to job shadow a number of hospital employees, giving her the opportunity to learn about various medical careers open to Mesquite residents and helping her make a more informed decision about her desired career. “With this program, local people now have an opportunity to learn skills that are needed here and to improve their way of life. Having the workforce program helps young people in Mesquite learn skills that will allow them to continue living here, rather than move to the city,” Smith said.

Of course, Monique is not the only success story. There’s the local man, who was incarcerated for more than 10 years, who graduated from a commercial driver’s license training program this spring. A young mother who recently completed her certification as a health aide. Two adults who have certified in vocational training. And several others are well on their way to meaningful, long-term employment with recently acquired health cards, work clothes, background checks, DMV reports, tuberculous tests and fingerprinting cards.

Aptly named the One Stop Shop due to the many wraparound services offered to clients, Mesquite’s Salvation Army Service Center offers career coaching and support as just one of its client offerings, which also include assistance with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, food boxes and rent. “When a client steps onto Salvation Army ground, it is usually because all their resources have been exhausted. It is not easy being in a needy situation,” said Cristina Anguiano, a case manager for the Mesquite Service Center.

“We are committed to a holistic approach for our youth and adults,” Woolley said. “All of this is designed to help improve career goals and increase financial stability for a better future and long-term outcome.”

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