By JOE JAROSZ
June 11, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Since 1995, the Bishop Sullivan Center has been helping people find jobs.
With its job placement program, it helps the unemployed find work through one-on-one counseling. Many of the people they help don’t have internet access and the center helps them search for work, along with providing resume building classes and assisting with the necessary attire for an interview.
In 2013 the center helped 461 people, the most in the center’s history, find work. Kathleen Kennedy, director of employment services at the center, said she wants to get the word out to the community to help continue to improve the center’s placement. Kennedy, who’s been with the center since 2003, said she loves working with people who want to find work.
“We have an open and straightforward approach,” Kennedy said. “We help anybody who’s looking for help but have barriers to overcome while looking for employment.”
The criteria to use the program includes being under or unemployed, not on disability and can pass a drug test. Although the center doesn’t drug test, Kennedy said it is pointless to jump through all the hoops of finding work only to not pass a drug test with an employer. In 2013, just over 50 percent of the center’s clients had a felony conviction on their record. Most of the clients, Kennedy added, are trapped in poverty but these types of barriers can be overcome. The average age of those who found work in 2013 was 42 years old. Kennedy said they work with people of all ages, however, if someone is under 20-years-old, they typically advise them to continue with school and invest in an education.
“If someone is working hard, we’ll work with them to remove some of the barriers,” Kennedy said. In the past, the center has helped people get state identification, bus passes and clothing needed for a job once hired.
The process starts with the person looking for work. Kennedy said the jobs program is a short term program, trying to find work for people as soon as possible. Once the person commits, they have to attend two orientations. After the orientations, the clients are required to stop into either of the two Bishop Sullivan Center locations to take advantage of the resources. Also, once the orientation is complete, the clients are assigned a job counselor. Some clients, she said, come in everyday. Job listings are also updated everyday.
“I think that’s the reason we’re so effective is because we’re one-to-one,” Kennedy said. “Right away, we look at assessing their work history, what kind of work they’d be good at and how we can fix the things getting in the way.”
The center works with the clients until they accept employment, which typically takes about three months from start to finish. For alumnus of the program, the doors are always open to them to check the updated job listings, Kennedy said. Two alumni, Kenneth Williams and Clarence Brown, have recently taken advantage of that open door policy. Within the past year, both Williams and Brown have found work with the help of the Bishop Sullivan Center. However, soon after finding jobs, both were back at the center looking for extra, part-time work.
“This place helped me during a time of need,” Williams, 46, said. “The counselors here are excellent and help any way possible.”
Williams praised the center’s smooth process, as well. He said he found work after about a month of working with his counselor. Brown echoed Williams’ remarks, adding the people at the center work tirelessly for those who want to find work.
“When I first came in, I thought it was the same thing but what I found out about the Bishop Sullivan [Center], and I believe this to be true, is they genuinely care,” Brown, 30, said, adding after he got his first job, the center followed up with him asking if he had the proper attire and transportation. “A relationship grows [from working with the counselors] and it made me feel good as a client.”
Bishop Sullivan Center is located at 6435 Truman Road and 3936 Troost Ave. For more information about its program, visit www.bishopsullivan.org or call 816-231-0984.