Fifty volunteers, donors, staff, clients and Board Members celebrated MND's quarterly ENGAGE Event on October 19th by looking at how time, talent and treasure impact lives at Maryland New Directions. Our Reverse Connections Friday panel allowed four of our former clients to share directly about MND's impact on their and their children's lives. Leia, 21, described how an administrative internship with MND provided her with the confidence and formal experience she needed to land a Customer Service Representative position with BGE, as well as the continued role her Job Coach Andrea has played, helping her to deal with the stresses and difficulty of her work. William, 54, highlighted MND’s assistance as a critical tool to helping him secure employment despite having a disability. He described how MND helped him to talk effectively about himself and how that led to a culinary career and a happier, more secure life. Shamia, 32, spoke about the lack of direction she felt as a young college student and the difficulty she had finding decent work as a single mother of two, as well as the low-paying, dehumanizing positions she was forced to accept because of her limited schedule. Now employed as a Longshorewoman at the Port of Baltimore after completing MND’s Maritime training program last October, she thanked MND for the security and direction that quality employment has provided for her and her family. She proudly shared that for the first time ever she and her children were moving into their own apartment in October. Brandi, 40, talked of her initial desire to become a registered nurse, and how she used to spend hours at the library, filling out applications to no avail. At MND she not only acquired the tools to land a job, but found out what she really wanted to do. Now working as an interim supervisor in the workforce development field for the past two years, Brandi is using the lessons she learned at MND to help others looking for work as well as her son, helping him to find his own direction and define his own occupational goals. While Leia, William, Shamia, and Brandi have all found success in the workplace in the past 4 years, their stories highlight the different ways each of them reached their goal and the diverse assistance MND offers to our clients. We are proud of their hard work and willingness to share their stories and their lives with the larger MND family!
At the beginning of 2016, West Baltimore's Miracle City Church (MCC) developed a partnership with Maryland New Directions as part of their “100,000 Touches” campaign. Throughout the year, Miracle City members have volunteered as Mock Interviewers and in many other capacities to serve MND clients. As an extension of this partnership, last month MND joined forces with MCC for our first-ever offsite Community Resource and Job Fair. While MCC lent their facility and led the way in outreach efforts in their church’s surrounding neighborhoods, MND coordinated 20 employers and community service organizations to provide a variety of employment resources to over 100 Baltimore residents in attendance. MCC staff and volunteers greeted attendees and provided shuttle service from the bus stop for those using public transportation. 41 individuals attended workshops in resume critiques and interview skills led by MND staff. MCC was able to secure 50 Orioles Tickets which were raffled off to attendees every hour by MCC’s Pastor, David Franklin, who was very excited to host the event at their facility. The event attracted individuals from all walks of life – from unemployed professionals to those with criminal backgrounds seeking an opportunity to those just starting out in the job market. There were young parents with strollers in tow as well as individuals re-engaging work after completing drug rehabilitation treatment. All of these individuals, despite their obvious differences, were brought together by a common need and the Job Fair provided a unique opportunity for MND to extend its services to meet that critical need where it exists. Based on the overwhelming success of this initial effort, MND is exploring ways to build additional partnerships and bring our resources to different sectors of Baltimore, providing service to people where they live and within their own communities. If you have connections to help us expand this kind of partnership, please reach out to Stefanie Hopkins, so we can meet the need for work throughout the City!
We appreciate our employer partners for attending our Resource and Job Fair: Symphony Placements, Adecco, Horseshoe Casino, Transdev, Johns Hopkins University, Levindale - a LifeBridge Health Center, Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development, Northwest Hospital, Randstad and Manpower! And a special thank you to our Community Partners: Baltimore City Office of Child Support, Humanim, Civic Works, Maryland Volunteer Lawyer Services, JARC- Jane Addams Resource Corporation, Caroline Center, Project PLASE and MOED (Mayor's Office of Employment Development)! Together, we made a collective impact in West Baltimore.
MND clients benefit from the coaching of passionate staff as well as the encouragement of caring professionals. Volunteers donate their time to provide MND’s clients with advice and perspective derived from their own career journeys and last week’s Connections Friday volunteers were exceptional. To start the time, clients had the chance to open up about their experiences at MND after their first week, with one saying “I feel a lot more confident in myself” and another stating “I have more to offer an employer than I thought.” The panel of 6 volunteers shared about their employment journey including challenges they faced, as well as pieces of advice for our job-seeking clients. A new volunteer, Damian Tucker, who works for the Port of Baltimore as a crane operator, was especially inspiring for this MTDL cohort. This young man shared about the importance of doing every task with excellence so as to give your supervisor reason to notice you. Rev. Alan Hathaway, challenged the clients by the adage “Talent will take you, character will keep you.” The clients were both inspired and informed through their time and ended the event by interacting individually with our guests to build connections, answer questions and develop their networking skills. MND clients greatly benefit from the incredible volunteers who take time to come share their stories and strategies and help our clients cast a vision for who they are becoming and where they are going!
In June our training facilitator, Stephen Thomas, attended the 2016 Jobs for the Future (JFF) Summit “Voices for Opportunity and Economic Mobility” which brought together over 650 professionals in New Orleans. The Jobs for the Future Summit provides a forum for sharing practical ideas and a foundation for the development of future workforce initiatives. Drawing upon the latest advances in the Job Development field, the Maritime Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics (MTDL) Training program has consistently received recognition for its innovation and effectiveness and the JFF Summit was no exception. Stephen presented MND’s unique MTDL program in front of workforce and economic development professionals from around the country. He explained MND’s commitment to create engaging and relevant content to enable clients to acquire the hard and soft employment skills they will need to excel on the job. A board game designer by hobby, Stephen shared his custom designed games that allow clients to gain experience as a truck driver and in a warehouse, all from the comfort of our offices. Our MTDL training program fills a unique niche by providing clients with the basic skills they need to fill hard to staff positions within this critical industry at the Port of Baltimore. By providing these services, MND not only helps individuals find a job but prepares them for a lifetime of employment.
At MND we live by this belief and promote the positive impact that one job and one life can have on the overall social and economic health of our city. Earlier this month we put that belief into further action by hosting our first on-site Job Fair. Twelve employers attended, sharing employment opportunities and meeting with nearly 40 qualified and motivated job-seekers drawn from MND and our close community partners. The Job Fair served not only to provide qualified clients with the opportunity to meet directly with employers but also the ability to immediately fill out applications onsite with support from our computer lab volunteers. Overall, employers expressed that they were impressed with the quality of candidates and 8 clients have already been offered jobs; several more are currently interviewing for positions. For more information about how your company can become involved in future MND job fairs, please contact us.
This month we hosted two Connections Friday events where a total of nine volunteers came to share their employment journey with our job-seeking clients. Our volunteers shared openly about challenges they have overcome and what choices and factors that have helped them arrive where they are today. For all the them their journey continues, which is a great inspiration to MND clients as they take their next steps towards employment. Some of the most powerful moments occur after the panel shares and the clients are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone to introduce themselves and network individually with the volunteers. It is a joy to watch the clients gain confidence as new relationships are built. Here is a snapshot of some of the wonderful people that make MND such a great place!
Our office has two new faces in it this week. Leia Sutton and Shardae Tate are our new Front Office Interns. Leia and Shardae both graduated from our Employment Training Program in February and were connected with the 8-week internship opportunity through their Job Coach, Andrea Harrison. Shardae, who is 23, says she plans on using her time with MND to “improve [her] communication skills” and is particularly excited about being able to tell potential clients about MND so they will make the same changes in their lives as she has.
Leia, who is 20, expressed on the final day of her training program that the biggest obstacle to her employment was experience. Leia, a go-getter who believes that “if you want something you should go get it,” felt frustrated trying to communicate her abilities to employers who were looking for specific employment experience. “How am I supposed to get that experience if you don’t give me that experience?” Leia and Shardae will be working with MND staff throughout their internships to hone their skills. Look out for these vivacious young women if you visit our office!
Our Information Specialist, Dwayne Henderson training Shardae on her first day interning at the front desk.
Our February cohort graduated from their one-week “Bootcamp” Employment Training Program last Friday. Client Gerard Hughes described the one-week “expedited process” as “the cool camp.” And cool they were. A standout moment that reflects their enthusiasm was when, as a group, they purchased and signed a thank you gift for one of our Job Coaches, Karen Holmes.
Addressing the cohort, Mock Interview Volunteer Lewis Miles praised the “wealth of talents” in the room and urged clients to “exude a level of confidence in yourself that projects.” The Mock Interviews on Friday served as a cumulative exercise for the week. Clients put their interpersonal skills, interview coaching, and newly honed resumes to the test. For one client it was a transformative experience. Justin has struggled to find confidence and direction since being released from prison last April, but his mock interview with a volunteer helped rebuild his faith in himself
“I can’t describe this good feeling I got…because, if this were a real interview, the man told me himself,
I would have been a good candidate. If I had more thumbs I would give you five thumbs up, but unfortunately
I only have two. That made me real happy right there. Nobody ever told me that one.
I always thought it was me. I thought I could never make it. But I did.”
This incredible opportunity for Justin and all of our clients was made possible by the volunteers who donated their time and expertise as Mock Interviewers: Yolanda Bevins, Kathy McGinley, Luke Mattey, Lewis Miles, Stephanie Ranno, Helen Schlientz and Chuck Waskiewicz. Congratulations to the February cohort and best of luck in all your new endeavors!
Our January 2016 cohort completed their Maritime Transportation Distribution and Logistics (MTDL) training last Friday. The training prepares participants to qualify for entry-level positions in the maritime transportation industry. This group included a younger cohort, mainly in their mid-to-late 20s. As they completed the training course they participated in mock interviews to help develop their interview skills. Six professional volunteers served as mock interviewers and sat on a panel afterwards to share feedback, give tips and answer questions for the participants.
Read below to see how our clients benefited from the mock interviews and the panel:
Tevon felt very nervous at first in the mock interview but he treated it like a real interview, dressing in professional attire and trying to remain calm. He wasn't sure how he did during the interview and was surprised to receive a nearly perfect score on his individual feedback form. He said that it was very helpful hearing the panel share their perspective on interviewing and it helped him realize they are just people. “It made me realize I have to stop being so hard on myself and be more open – just be myself. The program was wonderful. I learned a lot.”
Austin felt like the mock interviews were a good experience. He said he didn’t feel tense and that the mock interviewer really made him feel comfortable. “I felt ready because of what I had been taught at MND ahead of time.” He said he felt that his interview went well and he got positive feedback from the mock interviewer. During the panel he was excited to learn that he could follow-up with the professionals in the future if he ever needed help. Overall the experience made him feel more confident as he graduates from the program and goes on to real interviews. “I feel like I can handle it. I know I will do well.”
Thank you to our mock interviewers- Sarabeth Harris, Karen Harris, Laura Kaspar, Nash Peyton, Paul DiBari and Skip Case! We appreciate you sharing your time and expertise to help our job-seekers prepare for interviews. Our program participants greatly benefited from the individual feedback and tips you offered. The confidence they gained as they move forward is invaluable!
Thank you so much to our guest speakers Rosalind, Monique, Larry, and Andrea for sharing about your career journeys and tips to career success with MND job-seekers at Connections Friday last week! We learned a lot about focus, believing in oneself, and staying motivated. Check out some additional insights from our guests below:
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