welfare-to-work: show us the jobs, HERO director says FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 15 Apr 1998 12:12:41 -0700 (PDT)

Philadelphia Daily News - April 14, 1998


Many in need, but few will get jobs
Agency has something to ad

      by Marc Meltzer
  Daily News Staff Writer

Elaine Wallace knows all about low-income single mothers and their problems
in finding work.

There are just "not enough jobs, " said Wallace, executive director of a
three-year-old group called Helping Energize & Rebuild Ourselves Inc., or

She and Doris Phillips, HERO educational program director, wonder whether
welfare-to-work jobs programs, like Mayor Rendell's just-announced effort,
will be sufficient.

"Let's hope there will be some jobs," said Wallace. "I've known more and
more people who've been through training programs and there are no jobs
when they go out. They go for training for something else, then something

HERO is on 18th Street near Ontario in Tioga. It hopes to open by the end
of the year a job and economic development training center at the site of a
former supermarket at 17th and Tioga streets.

Training will focus on sewing, silk-screening, arts and crafts, and ways to
make money.

The group is working with 40 adults and 45 to 50 children, said Wallace.

The adults "don't have much confidence in themselves," said Wallace, noting
that many have never worked. "We help them get ready to meet a broader
world. It takes a lot of skills to care for the household and manage
children with very limited resources."

Among the people HERO is helping is a woman whose family welfare benefits
ran out and who is attending a jobs readiness program.

"She has no income. A church is letting her and another family live in the
building. Food is her problem," said Wallace. "She relies on the kindness
of strangers. I believe the woman is a good risk.

"You need someone to bridge the gap," she added. "A lot of people out there
are just like her. It's too much for small nonprofits to deal with all of

Wallace said the stereotype of women on welfare just sitting around is unjust.

Many women on welfare, she said, "have had a lot of trauma in their lives,
domestic violence, rape, beaten up, homeless. . . . The professionals don't
recognize the emotional toll that it takes on an individual."

Wallace said with more and more jobs moving out to the suburbs, inner city
day care gets to be a problem.

"You're traveling 1 hours to get to your job, 1 to get back and if it takes
you 1 hours to come home, the day care center is closed," she said.

For more information about HERO, call 215-430-0384.


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