The Learn2Work program is House of Hope’s workforce development program that is delivered with the goal of empowering homeless parents with essential employment skills, a positive employment experience, and an increased sense of self-worth to serve as the foundation for long-term employment stability.
Learn2Work employs homeless and previously-homeless heads of households who lack employment skills and experience (or have had unsuccessful experiences) and often do not have a high school diploma. Our approach has been individualized, enabling each intern to develop and execute career plans that utilize valuable local resources (GED/HiSET programs, ESOL classes, etc.); while providing the ability to adapt and allow for significant challenges. Acquiring job skills is not the only aspect of our program as many of our Interns need to quite literally learn how to work.
The Learn2Work Program provides “soft-skills training” and job-placement support to each and every intern. The soft-skills training is quite extensive and it includes:
- Job Readiness training
- Communications Skills
- Interpersonal Skills
- Life Management Skills
- Decision-Making Skills
- Customer Service Skills
- Career Planning Skills
Interns gain job-skills in a supportive work environment (either retail or culinary) that empowers them to implement personal career plans and work through employment issues that are the basis for any employment success. The goal of the Learn2Work Program is to provide a supportive work environment that ignites the desire within each intern to successfully support their family and make a difference in their community. Interns discover that work is valuable, work allows them to give back to society, and it builds their self-esteem. We have learned that our internships can literally transform our intern’s relationship to work; so they choose to work when they have the ability to not work.
Retail Sales & Management Program: Hope Chest
In March 2012, HOH launched the Hope Chest at 397 Market Street to provide Retail Sales and Customer Service internships. The Hope Chest is a nonprofit children’s resale store that sells very affordable, gently used children’s clothing. Our store employs 3-4 interns at a time at minimum wage for up to 20 hours a week. Our Interns learn the basics of retail sales including inventory maintenance and control, stocking and stock rotation, sales, and marketing. In addition, they learn the importance of customer service. Interns are engaging in meaningful work, being mentored, receiving one-on-one career support, and being taught basic job skills.
In addition to providing a supportive work environment for homeless mothers, the Hope Chest also serves the objective of supporting families struggling with the high cost of children’s clothing by providing very affordable gently used clothing to former House of Hope families, the local Acre neighborhood and the community at large. The Hope Chest also serves as a vehicle of care for those in the community who wish to donate gently-used clothing to those in need. All funds raised at The Hope Chest go right back into the program.
The Culinary Skills Program
As HOH more than doubles in size, it makes sense that doing the work of operating the shelters should benefit the homeless families who receive our services. We believe that, by adding the Culinary Skills Program component, HOH will take full advantage of the magnificent kitchen at our new shelter location on Fletcher Street and teach homeless parents the basics of institutional kitchens, commissary food preparations, and prepare them to serve as cooks in local universities, hospitals or nursing homes, as well as prepping food in high end restaurants.
The new Culinary Skills component of our Learn2Work program will provide paid, on the job training to 4-6 House of Hope residents at a time who desire to learn basic and cooking skills and gain experience as well. Since the new Fletcher Street shelter will house 30 families, and combined with our two other facilities, there will be 58 families sheltered nightly – this means as many as 200 people will require breakfast, lunch and dinner on a daily basis.
The families who are living in our shelters will be the source of the 25-35 interns per year who will gain real world experience as they operate our retail store and prepare and serve our meals as they Learn2Work!