There is a demonstrable need for our clients to find gainful employment to help them return to a responsible level of citizenship and self-sustainability. Welcome Home Ministries provides supported employment on a weekly basis. We utilize principles described in the “Individual Placement and Support” (IPS) supported employment model. IPS is an evidence-based supported employment model which is person-centered to help clients achieve “competitive employment,” based on their skills and determination to achieve self-sustainability.
“Longitudinal follow-up studies (10 years or more) confirm that clients perceive the benefits of working (Harding, Brooks, Ashikaga, Strauss, & Breier, 1987). A large proportion in one study reported that working helped them with self-confidence, hopefulness, boredom, loneliness, relationships, physical health, and energy (Salyers, Becker, Drake, Torrey, & Wyzik, 2004). In another study, a large majority reported that they sought mental health care less often while working and that their feelings about life and about themselves were more positive (Becker, Whitley, Bailey, & Drake, 2007). In a third study, many clients reported that steady work helped them to manage anxiety, stress, depression, psychosis, and substance use; and enhanced their moral, material, cognitive, structural, and emotional lives (Strickler, Whitley, Becker, & Drake, 2009).”
In 2002, Welcome Home Ministries began our “Welcome Home Works” program. Our “Works” program included a variety of construction trades and skills. We supplemented funding for Welcome Home Works under the guidance and supervision of Welcome Home Ministries.
While our efforts to help reintegrate clients into the marketplace were important as interim steps during the process of employment development, Welcome Home Works proved to be costly to sustain for our ministry. However, as we gained more experience in helping our clients find gainful employment, we began to focus our attention on a greater network of employment specialists and other employment opportunities. We cultivated relationships with employment agencies and began to collaborate with employment partners that have experience in workforce development.
Our close working relationship with “Workforce Development” professionals at “Room in the Inn’s Campus for Human Development” allows us to assist our clients in finding gainful employment through a collaborative partnership. Goodwill Industries is one of our partners, and offers our clients job readiness training and potential employment opportunities. Operation Stand Down Tennessee and the Department of Veterans Affairs offer assistance in helping our Veteran clients find gainful employment.
Additionally, we often receive requests from businesses — as well as individuals — that need general labor or temporary services for maintenance needs, grounds-keeping, landscaping and light construction work. We have had success in providing laborers for a variety of temporary work needs, and encourage individuals or businesses that have temporary or part time work to contact us to provide laborers. Our workers are supervised by the hiring entity. We bill the individual or business for work performed, and pay our clients. This arrangement has worked well for clients that need a point of reentry into the marketplace. Some of our clients hired for temporary or part-time work have been promoted to full time status.
All of our clients that do not have employment when entering our recovery support ministry are required to meet with WHM staff on a weekly basis. These formal meetings provide encouragement as well as help cultivate personal responsibility and accountability. We assist our clients with resume development, target employment opportunities that match their skills, coach them for job interviews and assist our clients in forming an action plan to seek and find employment.
Even though many of our clients have a criminal history and often struggle with mental health conditions, we have developed a good track record of helping our clients seek and find gainful employment, as we continue to match the skills of our clients with the needs and demands of the marketplace.