By Denise Seibert Townsend
Each of the services offered by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Evansville provides opportunities for individuals and families, and hope for the future. A few years ago, Catholic Charities was considering ways to serve individuals who were struggling to obtain and maintain stable employment. The organization recognized that employment and income are critical components in helping individuals and families move forward and reduce the impact of poverty.
With these goals in mind, Handy Helpers Home Repair was developed. Handy Helpers is a job-training program operated by Catholic Charities. The technicians/job trainees in the program are individuals with employment barriers and/or disjointed work histories. Common barriers include lack of a high school diploma, an invalid or no driver's license, or little family and childcare support.
Technicians are paid for their time in the program, which may last up to six months. The technicians spend 32 hours each work week learning handyman skills and providing these services in the community to customers. During this time, technicians gain valuable technical skills and other experience, such as arriving to work promptly; following instructions; and working as a team.
The remaining eight hours of each week are focused on personal-development activities. This time is customized for each technician’s needs and may include classes to obtain the High School Equivalency certificate, financial and life skills education, and other supports. Technicians also meet weekly with a mentor.
As technicians progress through the program, they receive support and guidance as they explore future employment opportunities, complete job applications and develop a resume. The goal is that technicians obtain a full-time community job at the conclusion of the program. Catholic Charities follows up with the technicians for 12 months following their completion of the program. Goals are that the technicians maintain stable employment and housing during this time.
Participants have experienced success. As an example, one technician had struggled with addiction and, as a result, had lost his job and house and was separated from his family. As he was in recovery, he began working with the Handy Helpers program. While in the program, he gained valuable work skills that enabled him to secure full-time employment at a local manufacturing firm upon completion of his time in the Handy Helpers program.
He even saved enough money to purchase a used car and rent a home that allowed him to be reunited as a family. He is now focused on his family, no longer lives in fear, and has hope for the future.
Handy Helpers Home Repair is an innovative program that provides participants with valuable work skills and experience. The program offers quality repair and maintenance services, under the direction of a licensed general contractor, at a competitive price, while providing opportunities for job training and valuable work experience for technicians.
Customers hire Handy Helpers to complete construction/repair work such as painting, aggregate sealing and many other home repairs. The revenue from customer jobs help to offset the program costs.
Is your home in need of repair? Call 812-217-3537 today for a quote or to learn more about this important program!
Denise Seibert Townsend is Director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Evansville.