Helping people help themselves
Latisha Calhoun of Brownsboro remembers the day when she was a single mom, going through a divorce and her 10-month-old son was in line to have surgery on his back. She didn’t know what to do. “Here I was – my baby was about to have surgery, I was a single mom, going through a divorce, and had my three-year-old to look after … and barely making it.”
She turned to the only resource she knew – the Work Force Solutions of East Texas – known to many as the ‘employment agency,’ or ‘where you file for unemployment.’
“It was in 2004, and I sat over on that side, looking for help, and had to get on programs to help us through,” Calhoun said from her office at the Work Force Solutions of East Texas. “I understand what all of the clients are going through.”
She is now the Area 1 Career Advisor Lead/Supervisor of the Athens, Palestine, Canton and Emory offices for Work Force Solutions of East Texas. When Calhoun tells clients, who seek help, “It can only go up from here,” she is speaking from experience.
“We had moved back to the area, and my now-husband had told someone that I was looking for a job – she owned a temp agency, and told me to come see her. She placed me here temporary in 2011, and then later that year, I was hired full-time as a career advisor, and in 2012, I became the quality performance trainer, and in September 2016, I became the area supervisor,” she explained.
Calhoun has around 19 employees that she supervisors.
In the Athens’ office, Calhoun said about 30 percent of their clients come from Chandler and Brownsboro weekly.
“We serve about 14 counties, and eight of those are mobile units,” she explained. “We are considered an employment office – we help those who are looking for work, and we are a resource – we do copies for them, fax and offer them workshops which are free to help get them on the right path to employment.”
Those on unemployment can apply through Work- Force Solutions, and there are varying programs available like the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act. “This is a federally-funded program that provides individualized assistance at no cost. We help with one-on-on job search assistance, employment placement and college and vocational degrees and certifications.”
There is a resource room available for those searching for jobs where they can use the internet, make copies, and use fax machines and telephones for job search purposes — free of charge.
A new program that the WorkForce Solutions of East Texas is offering is a CNA Paid Internship for young adults ages 16-24. Last day to enroll for the April course is March 24. The WIOA Young Adult Program is putting on different opportunities for young adults in the area to work.
The orientations will be every Thursday at 10am in Palestine and 9am on Fridays in Athens. A later internship would be with a manufacture. For questions about the Workforces Solutions East Texas Young Adult Program, call 903-677-3521 or stop by the office in Athens at 205 N. Murchison St., Suite 101.
As a woman in a leadership role with WFSET, Calhoun said, “We don’t have a lot of male staffers, but we have not had any issues. I think women are more compassionate and understanding. I don’t want any person to do without – that comes from being a people person, but in this job, I also have to hold our clients accountable – they have to do their part as well.”
Calhoun concluded, “It really does only go up from here… let us help you.”
For more information about Workforce Solutions of East Texas, visit the website at www.easttexasworkforce.org or call 903-677-3521.