CareerCatchers 2020 August Newsletter
“It all comes down to our relationship with our clients. We listened to what they needed and worked to provide it.”
Mana McNeill, Executive Director
Mana’s simple message highlights the extraordinary work of CareerCatchers in the first half of 2020 as everyone struggled with the effects of COVID-19. In less than 6 months, CareerCatchers saw the number of clients increase, the size of the staff double, and the challenge of helping clients find meaningful employment expand to include facilitating support from both private and government sources.
CareerCatchers applied for and received a $30K COVID-19 Relief Grant from the Greater Washington Community Foundation. The $30 K, which had to be spent within the months of April to June, led CC to both expand and shift the program.
Our clients needed help navigating confusing and often dysfunctional computer systems in order to apply for benefits. We helped some 150 receive their benefits. Many had no computers and had lost access to those in public spaces. We hand-delivered the 15 we could provide. We increased our outreach to existing clients and added 54 more. We advertised on-line training for clients and reached out to encourage them to enroll. We saw a 200% increase in clients who signed up for training classes.
A separate program with Montgomery County allowed us to facilitate requests for those not eligible for unemployment or stimulus checks. By the end of June, we had processed nearly 120 client referrals, as well as 20 of our existing clients, for payments through the Emergency Assistance Relief Program. Most of these new clients spoke no English.
- Left: Chris (Career Counselor)
- Middle: Mana (Executive Director)
- Right: Emma (Volunteer Coordinator)
- Left: Chan (VISTA Fundraiser)
- Middle: Carl (Career Counselor)
- Right: Kunda (Program Director)
Bottom: Justin (VISTA Data Analyst)
Job Club Expands
Weekly Job Club workshops, held on Zoom, proved popular with clients. Within three months, we delivered over 10 Job Club workshops, attended by 10 to 15 clients per session. The topics included presentations on the Gig Economy and Entrepreneurship, the Art of Networking, and Your Job Search Toolkit, among others. We are also working on a new evening program for working clients that will meet twice a month.
Volunteers Step Up
Approximately 20 volunteers were matched with clients taking on-line training classes to answer questions and offer encouragement and practical advice. Volunteers share expertise on communication, interviewing, and developing a LinkedIn profile.
One client shared her experience working with a CC volunteer:
“It is really amazing. I used to get so frustrated, I would just give up. Now I think I will be able to get my GED, and I can’t wait for our next meeting.”
CareerCatchers could accelerate work with clients and adapt to meet the crisis of COVID-19 because of the strength of our program, the energy and talent of our staff, and the generosity of our partners and donors. We served 355 clients in a three-month period—90 more than in the same period of 2019. We were able to hire staff, develop programs, and share expertise. We know what success looks like. Your donation will help us retain the staff we brought on and expand our program. It will allow us to hire a bilingual contractor. It will ease the pain and confusion of job loss and unemployment. It will offer connection, practical advice, and hope. What is perhaps most important, your donation will build a stronger community.
You can support CareerCatchers through Amazon Smile where Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of eligible smile.amazon.com purchases to the charities selected by customers. Use this link to support us: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/61-1588740