HANNIBAL — North East Community Action Corporation has just launched its Expanding Your Employability program, to help area residents get jobs.

Linda Fritz, NECAC county services programs director, said EYE came together after the agency conducted a comprehensive community needs assessment from January to September 2020. The assessment determined the two most prevalent needs for people in the service area were access to affordable housing and jobs paying a living wage. NECAC’s existing SkillUp program provides resources for residents who are receiving food stamps, and EYE aims to reach underemployed or unemployed people who aren’t receiving food stamps but still fall within income guidelines.

Fritz said the community needs assessment involved asking residents questions in each of the 12 counties in NECAC’s coverage area, condensing the results and performing detailed research.

“It goes along with our mission,” Fritz said. “We’re striving to make a difference by empowering people, improving lives and building communities.”

Fritz said jobseekers often face a series of barriers, including housing, nutrition and child care services during the time they would be working.

EYE works to remove those scenarios with resources like education, focusing on life skills such as resume‘ writing and interviewing or purchasing work clothes for a new job.

“We’re just trying to wrap the whole program around helping individuals reach their full potential and become gainfully employed,” Fritz said.

EYE has been in the planning stages for some time, and Fritz is excited to see it grow throughout the area. She recently hired Kirsten White, who will work one-on-one with EYE participants and visit businesses across the region to determine what they seek in prospective employees.

Fritz commended Kathy Lambert, CEO and co-founder of Connections to Success for her class which sets out a life plan and instills self-confidence as students seek their goals. So far, Fritz has sent three NECAC county coordinators to attend the program, and she wants EYE participants to attend the class with county coordinators. Students learn how to deliver a “30-second sales ad” highlighting their skills and why they would be an ideal fit for a specific career.

“It’s really awesome,” Fritz said. “For someone who is lacking in self-confidence, it’s going to show, ‘hey you can do it’. We’re going to help give you the tools.”

More information about EYE is available by calling Fritz at 573-324-2231 or contacting the local NECAC County Service Center.

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