Where Do We Go From Here?

Ten years ago this month, I started with Community Services League as the Director of Development, and I’d like to thank you for 10 great years, seven as the President & CEO. But, this is not the time for an exhaustive reflection of my 10 years at CSL. What has persisted is our neighbors’ shared commitment to improving lives. Over the last decade, we’ve worked together to develop and expand programming related to basic needs, financial coaching, workforce development, education, wellness, transportation, and other life domains. Your support and collaboration has provided the fuel to make program expansion happen.

Long food pantry lines have been the norm at CSL locations, and we have been helping families across the Greater Kansas City region

As we sit in the middle of a health and economic crisis, I’m grateful that CSL is in the position to support our neighbors. The economic shutdown has shown what most of us knew; many Americans are not in a financial position to absorb a crisis. Many weren’t in the position to absorb a crisis like an unexpected car repair, let alone unemployment with only a minimal amount of open businesses that might hire someone. As I write this on April 30, unemployment claims are now more than 30 million in the United States. Without drilling into the unemployment data, I’m quite certain that those most affected by the economic shutdown are hourly workers whose job couldn’t be performed remotely and fell under the category of “non-essential.”

So where do we go from here? You’ve been hearing a lot about our relief work – helping with basis needs – and that work will continue in earnest for the foreseeable future. Our CSL Board of Directors has voted on a COVID-19 Strategic Plan that guides our response and recovery to the health and economic crisis. Our plan states the focus of helping our neighbors recover will be employment coaching. CSL is well-positioned to do that with eight full-time staff dedicated to that service. Our three main areas of employment support are:

  • Vocational Rehabilitation: We coordinate this work with the State of Missouri to help potential workers whose special needs provide barriers to finding meaningful and fulfilling work

  • Bridges to Career Opportunities: With philanthropy, we pay 100% of the tuition for enrollees in health care or skilled trades programming that leads to an Industry-Recognized Credential. Currently, we offer certificates as Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and Stick Welding. With a significant grant from fund-holders at Truman Heartland Community Foundation, along with our regional and national support, we are poised to graduate more than 90 workers in 2020.

  • Employer Services: We coordinate with employers that are hiring and help connect unemployed workers to new jobs. We help jobseekers with support services that make them ideal job candidates and well-prepared to walk into a new job and find success. After placement, we continue supporting workers with Financial Coaching and continued development of personal and technical skills to ensure on-the-job success.

How can you help in the recovery? We believe some of our Bridges to Career Opportunities certificated trainings will resume by June 1, either in-person or virtually. Encourage someone in need of a career path to apply using this simple form. Are you an employer anticipating hiring needs later this year? Send us an email if you are interested in partnering to meet your workforce needs.

Ten years ago, when I started at CSL, we were in the middle of the Great Recession. Even as most of us moved on, financially, from that event, there was still a tremendous number of families who struggled to regain a standing in our economy through meaningful work. With the COVID-19 Crisis, I fear the employment recovery for many of our neighbors will be slow, and many will need good support to transition to new career sectors. I’m thankful CSL is there to help, and I’m grateful for your support that makes it happen.

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