Employment Program Specialist Informative Q & A

BEDS Plus Employment Program Specialist Q & A Session

Question: What is the overall purpose of the BEDS Employment Program?

The objective is to assist our clients in obtaining, and retaining, a job so they can become financially stable and independent. Secondly, studies show that having a job makes a person happier, healthier, and more satisfied. The road to stability starts with getting them shelter first though. Once an individual has that, obtaining a job and getting to and from a job is more feasible.

Question: How long has BEDS had an Employment Program?

I joined as a staff member in December 2020, to lead the Employment Program, after being a long-time volunteer in one of the congregate shelters. The current version of the Employment Program is about a year and a half old. Prior to that, Joe Russo, a BEDS volunteer and active board member, was leading the program. He is still an integral part of it today.

Question: When a BEDS client arrives for an appointment with you, what is the process?

We first describe our employment program to them and what we can do for the client.  We stress that we don't get the client a job. It’s their responsibility to engage in the process for it to be successful. We'll then discuss job-readiness - how prepared is the client to go to work?  What skills does the client have?  What education?  We also will build a resume if the client doesn't have one.  We will discuss the client's work interests – asking what does he or she want to do?  We'll make sure the client has a working telephone and access to email to make and accept calls about jobs and to apply online.  We'll explain and set the client up on job sites like Indeed and Snagajob. We’ll help our clients with interview skills, interview clothes, and if needed, help with transportation costs.

Over the last year and a half, we have built relationships with several companies looking to hire. These include Mariano's, Jewel-Osco, Tony's Fresh Market, FedEx Ground, Popeye's Chicken, and Loyola University Medicine. (We share with our clients that in most cases we can get them the interview then they need to go from there.)  We know our area and which companies are hiring.

Question: Can you estimate the number of job placements that you facilitate each year?

65 so far this year.

Question: What is your favorite thing about this job?

Joe and I love when we can help our clients find jobs. We are especially happy when they retain employment, so we work hard on retention strategies as well. We monitor our program looking at who has held their job for 90 days or better.  This stability leads to holding on to housing too.