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Home : News : Local
12/23/2012 12:19:00 PM
Job seekers find help at NW Family Services
Northwest Family Services photo
With help from Northwest Family Services, Nancy Jacques landed her dream job.
Northwest Family Services photo
With help from Northwest Family Services, Nancy Jacques landed her dream job.
Clarice Keating
Of the Catholic Sentinel

Nancy Jacques’ future seemed dark and uncertain when a medical condition prevented her from doing the work she loved.  Little did she know, just one year later, she would land her childhood dream job.

After many years working in an assisted living center, Jacques decided to become a certified nursing assistant. Upon completion of a training program, she quickly obtained work.  Unfortunately, just three months into her new job, Jacques was terminated due to sudden and new grand mal seizures, which she had on the job.  

Devastated, she felt lost and unsure of what to do with her life. She had never done any other type of work.   

“Losing my job was both depressing and a real wakeup call — it’s understandable why my employer let me go.  The situation helped me to realize that caregiving was too much for me,” Jacques said. But losing her job also meant that she no longer had access to health care to pay for newly needed medicine that controls the seizures.

After six months of searching without luck, Jacques sought help from Northwest Family Services’ CareerFit program.

During the next four months, Jacques would learn how to develop a resume and interviewing skills. She met weekly with Wendy Harrison, a career specialist; they worked together to develop an employment plan.

Together, they discerned that retail was an industry that would allow Jacques to rebuild her skills, establish a new work history, and find opportunity.

During the search, Jacques discovered a cake decorating position, a hobby she loved as a junior high school student.

“I couldn’t believe my luck,” Jacques said. After interviewing three times, she landed the job, and loves it.

During 2012, Northwest Family Services’ employment specialists assisted 279 people, and 71 percent of those job seekers obtained at least two interviews within 90 days. They place an average of 13 clients in jobs per month. More than half of the people they assisted got a job within three months.

One client thanked one of the employment specialists for helping her find her “bright opportunity.”

“It is a kind, noble and awesome job you do,” said Molly Barron. “You project hope and are so courageous to stand in the employment gap with job seekers and look for the bright new opportunities out there.”

Northwest Family Services is a non-sectarian organization. But it started at St. John the Baptist Parish in Milwaukie and has always earned the support of many Catholic groups. Father Richard Huneger helped start the project and has been an avid supporter since.

Backing the $1.4 million building were the Archdiocese of Portland, KBVM and several parishes.

For years, the organization has taught couples natural family planning, the church-approved way to regulate births. Northwest Family Services has also led local efforts in teaching youths to abstain from pre-marital sexual activity, using methods studies have confirmed. Services have expanded to more than 35,000 people per year.

Northwest Family Services offers workshops, counseling, mentoring and classes.

Programs are aimed at building self-respect and forming long-term goals for teens who are at risk of joining gangs. Many youths are asked to become peer leaders.

Outings called Lifesaver Retreats — 14 per year — deliver a pro-life message and urge chastity for youths.

“Northwest Family Services supports child well-being and family stability through a range of English and Spanish programs and services,” said Rose Fuller, executive director. “Finding meaningful employment not only supports the physical needs of the family, but provides a sense of purpose and dignity for those who are employed. It is our privilege to offer free job readiness and placement services, couple’s classes, parenting, money management classes, and health and social service navigation.”

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