Liv­ing Rock em­ploy­ment pro­gram gets fed­eral cash

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - NATALIE PADDON

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.”

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