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.