HIRED gets the job done

When it comes to tough employment challenges, this program meets them head on

Sharon Forner
Sharon Forner

The HIRED Program of Minnesota was formed in 1968. Its mission is to provide personalized and innovative work solutions through a wide range of programs located in communities and neighborhoods throughout the Twin Cities.

Hired has 16 locations around the metropolitan area and 140 staff members, who include professional employment counselors, job developers, trainers and other team members who help unemployed individuals find jobs and/or advance their careers.

For the past eight years, HIRED has hosted an annual Jobs Summit Fundraising Luncheon. This year, the luncheon was held late April at the Radisson Blu Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. Three hundred available seats were filled with community leaders, business professionals and program participants.

One of this year’s program participants was Sharon Forner, a 32-year-old woman who gave her personal testimony of a once-hopeless existence as a young mother with two young children. She had no high school diploma and was working a very low-paying job. She was also married to an abusive man.

When the MSR asked Forner what she would tell people about HIRED based on her experience, she said, “I would first give them a little background about myself to let them know that HIRED really does help.”

At one point, the spousal abuse between Forner and her husband got so bad that she took her children to a women’s shelter. When her husband followed her, she described fleeing from one shelter to another, fearing for her life.

After making up her mind that she wasn’t going to be a victim of abuse any longer, Forner eventually gained a better understanding of how her poor choices in boyfriends, which included the boyfriend that became her husband, were all of the same choices she had watched her drug-addicted mother make when Forner was a child.

In 2013, Forner met with Braden Johnson, her HIRED counselor. Braden put a plan together with Forner and she later earned her GED, was able to find housing and employment, and enrolled at St. Paul College to earn her associates degree in social work. She recently made the dean’s list. By the time she finished her testimony, there were very few dry eyes in the room.

“I feel like if you want to try to do something and be something, HIRED will help you” she told the MSR after her testimony. “They aren’t going to do it for you, but they will help you take the necessary steps to get you where you need to be.

“It’s a partnership. You’ll work together. If you don’t put anything in, you won’t get anything out.”

“I was so pleased that we had 300 people in the room who are concerned about what’s going on in our community, who are concerned about people who need jobs and concerned about supplying workers to our local businesses,” said Jane Samargia, executive director of the HIRED program since 1983. “The whole community depends on people being ready to work. People want to work and support themselves and their families.”

According to official intake forms, sign-in sheets and other government data collection, HIRED has served more than 10,000 people each year with 70 different programs. HIRED provides job-skill training and employment assistance to dislocated workers, low-income adults, ex-offenders, new immigrants, youth, and anyone transitioning from welfare to work.

HIRED has a 100 percent job placement rate, and the average wages for job seekers through their programs have consistently met or exceeded the goals established by their funding partners. These partners include the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the State of Minnesota and several other foundations and corporations.

Program Manager Barbara Doyle, who has worked for the organization for five years, has over 30 years experience in the field of employment. Doyle was instrumental in negotiating the historic Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with the upper management of the Seward Coop, which led to the hiring of the first African American manager by Seward Coop in their 40 years in business.

“Community outreach is critical for me,” explains Doyle. “It’s important that people know about the programs and the opportunities that are available through HIRED.”

When asked what life in Minnesota would be like for the unemployed without HIRED, Doyle says, “Those people would be hopeless if HIRED was not around. For example, we’ve had a person named David that came out of prison after 19 years at age 47 and found him his first job. David has been working for three years now. So that’s why we are here and that’s the difference.”

 

James L. Stroud, Jr. welcomes reader responses to jlswriter@gmail.com.