Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Over the past four years, East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO) has been researching the most effective program to help the unemployed and underemployed to find a job or get a better job.
Our vision of “eliminating generational poverty in the East Cooper communities” calls for us to provide our neighbors opportunities to become economically independent. The objective is for every citizen to be free of any government assistance, have enough money to pay their bills and earn enough so they have some savings. The best way to accomplish this is help them find employment or better employment.
On Aug. 12, Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina opened a “Job Links Center” in our building at ECCO on Six Mile Road in Mount Pleasant. This will be the only Job Link Center in Mount Pleasant and East Cooper.
The hours of the Job Link Center will be 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The “center” will offer help with job searches, including career coaching, resume writing and assistance with on-line job applications. Specially trained staff will assist job seekers as they navigate through the myriad of challenges in a job search. Computer stations will be available for job searches and resume building at no cost to job seekers.
ECCO has studied many models across the country that seek to help people find and keep a job. The major obstacle to becoming self-sufficient is not just landing a job but keeping the job for the long term. The model we will develop for our community will provide both. The Job Links Center, led by Goodwill, will help people find and secure jobs. In September classes and job coaching will begin to work hand in hand with those who have landed a job to help them succeed during their first year.
When you have a big job to do, it’s important to involve as many as you can to accomplish the task. That has been our philosophy over the years. We bring in the experts to assist us in accomplishing our vision. The wide array of services at ECCO today exists because of these collaborative relationships. Partnerships enhance our one-stop-shop to help our low-income neighbors. Today our partners include Charleston County Adult Education (GED and Workkeys), Roper Medical Center (Prescription Help and Health Education), the Medical University of South Carolina (Dental and Health), Marie Carter and Associates (Counseling), and Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services.
This new collaboration with Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina will be a significant addition to help boost those who need it the most in our East Cooper area.
Founded in 1989, in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo led by Christ Our King Catholic Church, ECCO began by distributing emergency food and clothing. Services expanded through the years so that today ECCO is a place where our low-income neighbors can receive multiple services to help them through a crisis and move towards self-sufficiency.
Our original promise to our community continues, even while growing and expanding. ECCO exists to educate the uneducated, to inspire the hopeless and to foster the growth of those who are not able to dream of a better future.
Jack Little is the executive director of East Cooper Community Outreach.