Another welcome tool

To the editor:

This past Wednesday, a Grand Opening and ribbon-cutting was held in Union for what was billed as “A new Enterprise.” The name of the effort?……”The Meeting Place on Main.” Its mission is to find jobs for folks who need them. This will involve client assessment, training, applicant presentation, and counseling. The activity is a community outreach of Trinity Baptist Church.

I serve as the Director of the Upstate Workforce Board which funds SCWorks. Our mission is to do all we can to get people jobs. Our offices are just down the street from The Meeting Place on Main. Since the opening of this new effort, I have received many questions about duplication of services between these two organizations. I am writing this letter to respond to that question.

The funding for SCWorks is primarily federal. As such, many of our goals, standards, and target audiences are mandated by federal and state guidelines. The Meeting Place on Main is supported by private and faith-based funding. As such, it is free to more broadly serve a wider array of clients. The number one barrier job seekers face in Union County is lack of transportation. Another job hurdle is low levels of basic literacy. Improving reading skills takes large amounts of staff time and resources. Meeting Place on Main officials have committed to removing these barriers. This is to be commended and applauded. The Meeting Place on Main will be well positioned to provide the services that we cannot.

Federal and state performance measures along with enrollment requirements have a large impact on the staff at SCWorks to fully serve the employment needs of all Union County residents. The Meeting Place on Main effort will not be limited by such standards and can truly focus their efforts on those most difficult to serve. Those on government assistance need assurance that they can be self-sufficient should this assistance be removed. Meeting Place on Main will fill in those gaps that we cannot.

Another focus of SCWorks is convening community partners together in an effort to jointly solve workforce and community needs. We have invited Rev. Keisler to these meetings and will continue to do so. It takes all of our agencies, churches, and non-profits working in collective harmony to improve our economic situation. And SCWorks will certainly refer its customers to The Meeting Place on Main for those services they can best provide.

Let us all embrace The Meeting Place on Main as a gift to Union and to SCWorks. They are another welcome tool in the county’s collective tool box to help people rise out of poverty and become self-sufficient, tax-paying citizens. Jobs give people hope. Dependency on government services takes hope away. Let us not focus and those things which may be duplicative, but instead, celebrate our differences. Let us look forward to the good that is yet to be.

Ann Angermeier

Executive Director

Upstate Workforce Board