How to get a job is not some­thing every­one auto­mat­i­cal­ly knows.  It is often an intim­i­dat­ing and com­pli­cat­ed process. Most of Jen­nifer Hervey’s Sono­ma­Works tem­po­rary aid clients come from a his­to­ry of pover­ty, a bro­ken edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem, a dys­func­tion­al fam­i­ly life, a cul­ture of hope­less­ness. Their voca­tion­al skills are min­i­mal, their moti­va­tion depressed. Jen­nifer coun­sels her clients regard­ing their work relat­ed atti­tudes, how to write resumes, make the phone calls, dress appro­pri­ate­ly for job search, ask the right ques­tions, etc. She pro­vides leads on where to look for jobs and sug­gests resources for the train­ing nec­es­sary for the kind of work her clients would like to do.  

         Accord­ing to Jen­nifer, “Peo­ple come in depressed, with a feel­ing of hope­less­ness, not real­ly know­ing where to turn for work, or how to find it, and how to keep it.” She has repeat­ed­ly seen her clients, take one step at a time, with guid­ance, toward self-suf­fi­cien­cy and inde­pen­dence. They begin to real­ize they can do it, that they can get the job.  And she has watched them devel­op self-esteem and con­fi­dence. “It’s like a light comes on for them. You can see it in their demeanor, in the way they look and act.”

          Jen­nifer is an Employ­ment Ser­vices Spe­cial­ist for WCCS. She serves adults receiv­ing Tem­po­rary Aid to Needy Fam­i­lies (TANF) and she serves youth mov­ing from school to work in the Tran­si­tion Part­ner­ship Pro­gram (TPP). All her clients have what are called “bar­ri­ers to employ­ment”. She helps them get past the bar­ri­ers. 

            In Sono­ma Coun­ty the TANF pro­gram is called Sono­ma­Works. This pro­gram requires par­ents of chil­dren receiv­ing aid to spend a num­ber of hours each week for a num­ber of weeks, as deter­mined by an employ­ment coun­selor, either in job search or in train­ing for a job. If clients are not dis­abled, they are expect­ed to be placed at a com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice vol­un­teer site or in com­pet­i­tive employ­ment with­in 45 days of enroll­ment in the pro­gram. They are enrolled when they accept TANF.      

          In the TPP pro­gram, Jen­nifer works with high school stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties who are State Depart­ment of Reha­bil­i­ta­tion (DOR) clients, both in school and out-of-school.  DOR refers them to local agen­cies like West Coun­ty Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices so they can obtain employ­ment in the com­mu­ni­ty most appro­pri­ate for each client. Work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly with the West Sono­ma Coun­ty Union High School Dis­trict and DOR, Jen­nifer helps her clients find a job that match­es their voca­tion­al goals and inter­ests. And she some­times at first attends the work sit­u­a­tion with her clients, in order to help them adjust to what is expect­ed of them.

          What many take for grant­ed, some do not even know is pos­si­ble.  Jen­nifer helps her clients see and expe­ri­ence what is pos­si­ble.