Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Despair
Photography by Liam O’Connell
City Gospel Mission has played a large role in alleviating poverty in Greater Cincinnati for many years. In 2012, JobsPlus Employment Network joined with them to unite their missions to serve the community as they aim to “break the cycle of poverty and despair … one life at a time.”
Brad Mueller, vice president of City Gospel Mission and executive director of JobsPlus, explained that the merger gave JobsPlus the opportunity to further City Gospel Mission’s outreach, such as their men’s homeless shelter and a drug and alcohol recovery program. “We are able to continue the care and development of the individual,” Mueller says. “We try to take a holistic approach, so merging let us all work together.”
The JobsPlus program, like City Gospel Mission, helps those in poverty, homelessness, addiction or simply in need of help, specifically through career development training. This training, called Holistic Hardware, includes interactive seminars and teaches 10 Biblically based life skills and values, such as discipline, responsibility and self-esteem.
People typically find JobsPlus through a reference by a social service agency (such as Salvation Army), various men’s and women’s shelters, probation officers or churches. They fill out an application, meet with a career counselor, determine which program and begin attending sessions as a part of a 10-week program. These sessions teach skills for job searching, interviewing and interaction skills for the workplace.
In addition, 50 to 60 men and women are recruited from local churches for the prison mentorship program where they are paired with a prisoner for several months before they leave, at which time they come to JobsPlus. “(They) work with them in all aspects of their life … and some keep up with their mentors afterwards,” says Mueller.
Over the course of a year, 350 to 400 people are enrolled in JobsPlus, but Mueller says the number that enrolls isn’t the most important. “The big thing is not how many people come to the program, it’s how many people keep a job after the program.” He says they have an 80 percent job retention rate over the first year, and explained that JobsPlus takes great interest in the individuals as they try to maintain personal relationships for as long as possible.
In 2014, JobsPlus started a program called FastTrack, which specifically helps those with fewer barriers to employment. JobsPlus has recently expanded to reach Butler County and will continue to grow. They have started working alongside local public schools to help seniors who don’t plan to attend college.
With their continued growth, City Gospel Mission and JobsPlus are working together to maintain a holistic mission to help build a better life for those in poverty. “We are not solely focused on the job,” says Mueller, “we are focused on personal development.”
JobsPlus Employment Network is located at 1211 York Street, Cincinnati, OH 45214. You can reach them at 513.241.1800 or visit their website at www.citygospelmission.org/career-development.