Living Rock employment program gets federal cash
Emily Rooney knew working with animals was her passion, but making that dream a reality hasn’t always been easy for the 22-year-old.
The Hamilton woman hadn’t finished high school, had never had a job and was dealing with diabetes and mental-health issues when she learned about a program for youth facing barriers to employment offered through Living Rock Ministries in 2014.
Enrolling in the 16-week program called TRI-Rock and completing a placement at The Cat Clinic was a turning point for Rooney.
“It 100 per cent helped me,” she said. “If I hadn’t done this, I honest to God — it sounds very melodramatic — I don’t know that I’d be alive at this point.”
Employment and Social Development Canada announced $1.5million in funding for TRI-Rock Wednesday, which means the program will be available to help 150 vulnerable youth develop job skills over the next three years.
While TRI-Rock typically receives federal funding, the threeyear commitment makes planning for the future easier and means there won’t be any temporary staff layoffs as a result of year-to-year funding gaps, said Living Rock executive director Al Craig.
More than 50 per cent of funding received goes directly to the youth, including paying their wages, he said. The remainder is used to pay the four coaches who work with program participants and help fund administrative costs.
The paid program, which started in 2011, is split into two phases. The first eight weeks are spent in workshops on resumé writing, job searching and time management in addition to gaining hands-on experience in food preparation and janitorial services at Living Rock on Wilson Street. The next eight weeks are spent at a job placement in the community.
“We’ve really taken on the niche of employment for youth and trying to help them get a vision for their lives — finding what their skills and interests are and really working alongside them,” Craig said.
Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Minister Patty Hajdu commended Living Rock for welcoming all youth into the program.
“Not everybody gets the same opportunities in life,” said Hajdu. “Effort is very important … but you could try your hardest and still not have success, and that’s when we need a hand up.
“That’s why Living Rock is so important because they recognize the value of every single person.”