Workforce Development: Pennies from Heaven Foundation

Workforce Development: Pennies from Heaven Foundation

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We found here locally that our greatest need
in economic development was workforce development – helping people to find jobs and keep jobs. The Lakeshore Employer Resource Network of
Mason County is a partnership between the Pennies from Heaven Foundation and United
Way of Mason County, along with twelve local employers. It’s a group of companies coming together
to solve their employees’ non-HR type problems: housing, transportation, healthcare, childcare. The kind of things that you wouldn’t take
to your HR department but that are impactful in your life and help you stay employed and
make you successful in the workplace. We employ a success coach to work in those
companies. I describe her as a barrier buster. She works with employees to help remove barriers
that could either prevent them from losing their jobs or from being successful in the
workplace. Employer Resource Network in our community
serves about twenty percent of our working population, so if we can help that twenty
percent be successful in the workplace, then that naturally helps build economic development
within our own community. The change in our community as far as collaboration
and people working together, I think has been nothing short of a miracle. Our greatest asset as a foundation is not
just the financial support that we can offer but the ability to bring everybody to the
table. One of the meetings was really telling. I met with Lynne Russell and she said “our
greatest need is to think differently. We’ve got all these people working on the
problems locally, but they’re all working in their own little silos trying to solve
one little problem and it’s not working.” To have a stronger, healthier community it’s
all about building relationships, and stepping back to look outside and think differently
about how to solve problems than the traditional ways we have always tried to solve problems. I think to the extent we all learn that, and
learn how satisfying that can be, that has the power to change the world.

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