ABOVE: St. Louisan Shawntay Vaughn works at Johnson Computer Technologies in developing a marketing plan for the company. Vaughn was hired on permanently as a receptionist after working through ARCHS' Welfare to Work Partnership, and was then promoted to office manager.
It was less than a year ago that St. Louis resident Shawntay Vaughn was being moved out of her domestic violence transitional house without any income, no employment on the horizon and state sanctions on her welfare benefits for being non-compliant. She applied for low-income housing, but without any source of income, finding a home for her two children proved nearly impossible.
To help remove the barriers which led to Vaughn’s benefits being sanctioned by the state, her case worker referred her to ARCHS' Welfare to Work Partnership for assistance with finding employment and apartment deposit services. Within a month, she was set up with job as a receptionist at Johnson Computer Technologies on North Euclid, which hired her on permanently in July. She has since transitioned into the role of office manager.
ARCHS’ Welfare to Work
Partnership was originally awarded funding in 2007 from the Missouri Department of
Social Services (DSS) to support
Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) participants who have been
sanctioned for not adhering to benefit requirements.
“I love my job, and my bosses understand what I am going through being a single mom with two small children. They still expect me to be a responsible employee though,” Vaughn said. “I was very pleased with ARCHS because of how fast they found employment for me. I knew I truly was working with people who really wanted to help me because sometimes you don’t get the compassion and understanding with state case workers. With ARCHS, you can just tell they are in the business of helping people.”
The grant funds ARCHS’ Successful Work Incentives for TANF Community Partnership. ARCHS uses a transitional jobs model to help St. Louis city and county TANF participants remove the barriers that lead to them being sanctioned by the state. ARCHS’ case management focuses on job/life skills training, housing and transportation assistance, child care referrals, health care access and financial literacy.
Since 2007, ARCHS’ Community Work Support Grant has placed 494 people in subsidized transitional jobs, 94 people in full-time and unsubsidized jobs that added $11,000 a year to their income and 80+ employers have provided more than $2 million worth of on the job training.
For Vaughn, she admits feeling a wave of nervousness about where ARCHS would place her in employment. She was pleasantly surprised how ARCHS worked to find a job that she would not only be good at but also interested in.
“I wanted and found something that really utilized my skills. I wanted something that was challenging, and provided me with a livable income,” Vaughn said. “I started in February as a receptionist and now I am the office manager and handle all the marketing for the Johnson Computer Technologies. This isn’t just a job anymore. It is a career.”
Vice-President of Johnson Computer Technologies Bobbie Jackson said Vaughn has been an excellent worker and his organization decided to hire her permanently because she was a perfect fit for the office.
“ARCHS has been able to prepare people for the type of office work that is in demand, which in most cases leads to permanent employment,” Jackson said. “This program is important because it seems to have transitional stages to accurately assess the recipient for their movement to the next stage.”
ABOVE: Area-resident Tracy Umar is one of many ex-offenders that have found employment through ARCHS' Reentry Mentoring Partnership, which is funded by a Second Chance Act federal grant.
The last several years have hardly been a walk in the park for area-resident Tracy Umar. Addictions to controlled substances such as crack cocaine and multiple stints in and out of prison have plagued her adult life. Umar is candid with the reality that the problems she endured were because of her own decisions, but surely the lack of a family foundation and supporting shoulder did not help the situation.
However, the Tracy Umar before her prison release date on June 21, 2010 and the present day Tracy Umar are two completely different people. The Tracy Umar of today has a steady job and income serving as a main cashier at Busch Stadium and the Edward Jones Dome, has sobered up and most importantly of all – has reestablished a connection with her young daughter. Umar did all the work to turn her life around and chose her new path in life; however it was ARCHS’ Reentry Mentoring Partnership that helped pave a path for her.
ARCHS was the only recipient in the State of Missouri to receive federal Second Chance Act funding for $265,944 to create a pre and post prison release mentoring program to serve non-violent offenders. ARCHS works with Missouri Department of Corrections, Missouri Board of Probation and Parole, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, GUIDES Family Life Center, Humanitri, Institute for Peace and Justice, and Helping Offenders Maintain Stability (HOMS) to implement the grant.
“My total amount of time in prison was two-and-a-half years. I am honored because I’m a felon and someone is putting trust in me to count large sums of money each night,” Umar said. “My charge is burglary, and someone is putting faith in me to count their money.”
Before coming into contact with HOMS, who ARCHS contracted to mentor the offenders, Umar was not confident she would find employment. She vowed to do whatever it took to stay on the right track, even if that meant getting on HOMS’ “last nerve” in an effort to find assistance.
“All I knew was I wasn’t going back,” Umar said.
Through ARCHS' Reentry Partnership, Umar was provided with mentoring, professional and casual clothes and much more. Having that backing has not only allowed for her to gain employment, but she has also become a licensed renovator with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and plans to start school in January to earn her Associate Degree. Umar also plans to speak with a local union soon about beginning a three-year apprenticeship.
On top of all that, Umar was recently elected President of the Osage Oxford Recovery House which helps ex-addicts. As she looks at her watch to check the date, Umar can tell you exactly how long she’s been clean and the positive example she hopes her sobriety length serves for the other addicts at the House.
“I’ve been sober for five-years, four months and two weeks,” Umar said. “They [at the Recovery House] look up to me. A friend there told me I was an inspiration, and I didn’t know how to take it. I was baffled.”
Looking forward, Umar knows her life has changed and she’s happy for it. She knows she was ready to make the change, but also realizes how much assistance the ARCHS’ Reentry Mentoring Partnership helped further her potential.
“Life is presenting itself right now, and only we can really change it. But we have to want it, and we have to do all the footwork. The help I received was great, but they can only do so much because if you don’t want it then it doesn’t matter how much help you get,” Umar said. “I am better than spending another two-and-a-half years in prison. I still have one year, 10 months and 10 days left on parole, but that’s not going to matter because now I have a foundation built for me.”
ARCHS also supports the St. Louis Alliance for Reentry (STAR). Check out its website by clicking HERE.
LRM SPOTLIGHT: CRIME VICTIM ADVOCACY CENTER
ABOVE: Crime Victim Advocacy Center of St. Louis (CVAC) staff at its National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims event. CVAC is one of many area not-for-profits that entrusts ARCHS' Leveraged Resources Management (LRM) with its accounting.
A sea of flickering candles lit up the steps of the Solders’ Memorial on Chestnut Street on a September 25 evening. It was not a political rally or one of St. Louis’ many great organizations holding a benefit. Rather, it was the Crime Victim Advocacy Center of St. Louis’ (CVAC) National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. It was CVAC’s day to give victim’s a voice, even if it was of a silent tone.
CVAC is the only agency in the region that provides immediate response from a social service base to victims of any crime, whether it is non-violent or violent. The organization provides resources, counseling, advocacy and referral for victims of crime and their families.
“In a best case scenario, we restore victims to safety and health and help stop the exasperation of future issues in general, but in particular to the crime that person experiences,” said Julie Lawson, Executive Director of CVAC.
The need for CVAC’s services is well documented in the region. The fact that in 2009, more than 103,000 serious crimes were reported in the St. Louis area could not be a bigger testament to that statement.
CVAC helps with crimes including burglary, robbery, identity theft, assault, homicide, hates crimes, sexual assault, domestic violence and more.
“Many people think that the crime they experience isn’t important enough, but that is only validating themselves as a victim,” Lawson said. “Any crime is an invasion of a person’s well-being, so we serve all types of people from those in poverty to those who are literally millionaires. And all of our services are free.”
As an independent not-for-profit agency, CVAC turned to ARCHS’ Leveraged Resources Management (LRM) over five years ago to handle the organization’s financial responsibilities. Lawson said CVAC turned to LRM as a more healthy and transparent financial source.
“What we liked about LRM is they knew and understood not-for-profit accounting. It is a lifesaver for Crime Victim Advocacy Center because by having them do our financials it fully enables us to focus on the programs that serve our customers, who are victims of crime,” Lawson said. “I have never felt more confident in our accounting as I do now with LRM, and I can just focus on the work CVAC does. I know LRM’s work is done accurately and with integrity.”
Founded in 1972 as Aid for Victims of Crime, CVAC was the first victim assistance program in America. CVAC offers a wide range of services for individuals, whole communities and other organizations and institutions seeking to improve their services to victims of crime.
The next CVAC event will be its Run for Resiliency 5K on November 6.
ARCHS will host its 2nd Annual Early Childhood Institute at Harris-Stowe State University
from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, October 9. Last year's event boasted 500 early
childhood professionals who took advantage of the great learning
opportunity. This year, even more are expected to pack the William L.
Clay Sr. Early Childhood Development and Parenting Education Center for
The ARCHS' institute will have classes that focus on three specific age groups: infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
World renowned early childhood expert Bev Bos
will serve as the keynote speaker and will be delivering breakout
sessions on her "Starting at Square One: Using Creative Art, Music and
Language to Establish Environments that are Child-Centered."
The 5th annual Missouri Reentry Conference
will be held Wednesday-Friday, November 17-19 at Tan-Tara-A Resort in Osage Beach. The
conference will feature speakers and workshops related to job and
skills training, housing issues, community and family re-engagement
programs and faith-based support for Missouri's ex-offender population.
Last year's conference had more than 320 attendees.
The conference is sponsored by ARCHS, Missouri Department of
Corrections, Missouri Department of Social Services, and Family and Community Trust
The purpose of the Missouri Reentry Conference is to provide
high-quality education and networking opportunities for corrections
professionals and community-based partners who contribute to the
prisoner reentry process. The multiple tracks format offers a
self-directed, facilitated learning environment with education
sessions, interactive forums and exhibits. Education sessions are
carefully designed to transcend all industry sectors, focusing on
current and emerging issues, best practices and the many challenges facing the community, corrections staffs and ex-offenders.
MISSOURI REENTRY CONFERENCE INFO
ARCHS HELPS TEACH/TAKE SCIENCE AND DIVERSITY
ARCHS' 2nd annual Teach and Take Day delivered ARCHS-funded child care providers with a learning opportunity and the chance to take home some goodies! ARCHS' child care providers attended either a class on how to integrate science into their centers or how to be aware of diversity amongst their children. At the end of the class, those who attended took home boxes of either science or diversity toys!
The 2010-2011 school year is in full swing and ASAP after school programs are providing over 4,000 St. Louis area students with an academic and fun environment, such as at Oak Hill Elementary (pictured above).
The ARCHS' "Getting Down to Business With Social Networking
presentation was held September 22 at the St. Louis Public Library.
Nearly 40 area not-for-profit staff and volunteers attended the
presentation and received tips on how to advance their not-for-profit's
social mission and business strategies.
ARCHS' Chief Executive officer Wendell E. Kimbrough, Executive
Vice-President Steven Brawley, Director of IT Partnerships Eric Monroe
and Communications Specialist Justin Gibson explained how ARCHS
utilizes social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
ARCHS, ASAP and the STAR
Facebook pages are filled with great additional stories and pictures
about community partners. Please become a fan of these important
community partnership Facebook pages and invite friends to do the same.
Make sure to become a fan of the ASAP Facebook page and keep up-to-date with back to school happenings!
ARCHS' Facebook page is nearing 700 fans and receives over
500 hits each week from engaged community leaders and members.