published Saturday, December 1st, 2012

United Way's 211 offers jobs aid in Chattanooga


What: United Way's 211 staff will be at Temple of Faith Deliverance Church of God in Christ to hear people's needs and the barriers they face to getting jobs or bettering their educations.

When: 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 14

Where: Temple of Faith Deliverance Church, 2139 E. 27th St.

United Way's 211 call center officials say the demand for help is becoming overwhelming, so they want to know what obstacles are keeping people from getting jobs and helping themselves.

"We're trying to empower people to help themselves so ultimately we decrease social dependency," said Eileen Rehberg, director of United Way's 211 and Building Stable Lives. "This is a necessity because resources are diminishing."

Many churches that provide food vouchers are finding their own congregations are going hungry. And federal funding for the agency's emergency food and shelter program decreases every year, said Rehberg.

She said people call 211 asking for assistance with basic needs such as food, utilities and rent. The 211 officials want to expand services to help teach people how to budget and tell them about employment opportunities.

"What we've done is that we've created a dependency on social services," Rehberg said. "We've educated people well about the available food vouchers. We can educate people as well about available job opportunities."

United Way's 211 is sending staff to Temple of Faith Deliverance Church of God in Christ for one day a month to hear about residents' needs.

Church pastor Rosario Slack said helping people reach self-sufficiency may require more than finding a job. People who don't have a work history need to create a culture where they have a desire to work, Slack said.

Transportation, child care and sometimes lack of education also pose obstacles to working, Slack said.

"If there are a whole bunch of jobs that are available and not enough people to fill them, then we need to know what those criteria are and then get people who want those jobs," Slack said.

This is the first time, except for times of disaster, that 211 operators have established a community-based office.

"We need to establish a relationship with the community so that we hear from them what their needs are," Rehberg said.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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