West Central Blogger

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Northern Connections opens doors to a better life for those struggling to make ends meet

David wanted to work. The single dad from Waubun had been pounding the pavement for a long time looking for steady employment. But the doors weren't opening. Then he got a letter from Northern Connections in Perham. They wanted to help him any way they could to find and retain a good job. David couldn't believe it. He called right away. Now, David is in a six-week program to become a machinist--something he's wanted to do since high school. "I like to work with my hands," he said. Upon successful completion of the training, he'll get help finding employment. David is on a career path.

David recently told his story to the attendees of Northern Connections' annual meeting. Now two years old, Northern Connections is becoming an Upper Midwest model for providing free, voluntary one-on-one assistance to low income individuals, most of whom are just getting off some form of state assistance. Northern Connections helps its clients overcome barriers to employment and job retention. It provides tools and resources for asset accumulation and career advancement. Staff do a lot of hand holding, and walk clients through a lot of situations, like getting a credit report, writing a resume, buying a car, opening a checking account and enrolling in school. The amazing thing about Northern Connections is interaction is entirely by phone.

David summed up what Northern Connections does. "It helps people who want to get out of the rut they're in." Then he added: "I want it better for my children."

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