Friday, June 22, 2018
Business

Pasco programs help job seekers look their best

Lisa Achey was ready to go back to work. For five years, she had been receiving physical therapy for injuries from a car accident. She had been living on state disability assistance, then unemployment. When she was healthy enough to return to work, she couldn't find a job in Rhode Island.

So she packed up and joined her family in Florida and continued her job search here. In the past seven months, she has applied for 20 jobs. By word of mouth, the Port Richey resident has gotten odd jobs cleaning houses, mowing lawns and driving people to grocery stores. But she still needed help to find a full-time job.

Connections Job Development, a nonprofit in New Port Richey that provides support for active job seekers, has helped Achey prepare a resume and apply for jobs. Just as important, the group gave Achey two professional outfits to wear on interviews.

"You have to have close-toed shoes for job interviews and the only thing I had was sneakers and flip-flops," said Achey, 49. Last week she used a voucher from Connections to get new slacks, a top, a dress, a jacket and shoes that will make her feel more confident as she continues in her job search.

Connections Job Development is one of the beneficiaries of the West Pasco Bar Association's Law Suits project. For the past decade, the annual clothing drive has solicited donations of business and professional attire to benefit men and women who can't afford to purchase on-the-job office apparel or clothes for job interviews.

"People just don't have the money or the outfits," Connections Job Development's executive director Sheila Krautner said. "If they've been in a position where they've not had to wear dress clothes for work, they don't have them for interviews."

Six years ago, about 10 percent of Connection's clients needed interview or work clothes. Now nearly a quarter of Connection's 800 clients do.

"You put somebody in clothing for interviews or you give them clothes to dress up for work and their whole demeanor changes," Krautner said.

"It gives them a lot of hope," she added. "It's an empowerment program that we have."

In addition to providing clients with clothing, Connections recruits a hairdresser to come in every four or five weeks to give free haircuts.

Debora Diaz of Blaesing & Diaz, P.A. is this year's Law Suits coordinator, and has been involved with the program since its inception. Diaz estimates that last year's drive amassed more than 50 suits.

"There's definitely a need. Clothes are expensive and the price keeps going up," Diaz said. "You're expected to look neat and professional in an interview, so there is a definite need out there."

The other beneficiary of the Law Suits drive is Pasco-Hernando Community College's Dress for Success program, which provides professional clothing to students in need.

Jessica White, coordinator of student activities at PHCC, said most of the Dress for Success clothing goes to students in organizations such as Phi Beta Lambda, a business club in which members participate in competitions where professional dress is expected.

"Sometimes, the students can't afford the clothing in order to dress professionally," White said.

Even though it's possible to cobble together an inexpensive professional look from clothes at the Salvation Army or Goodwill thrift stores, White said it can be intimidating for students, especially when they need the outfit immediately.

Achey, who has interviewed with a florist, a cleaning service and a newspaper delivery service, said her new clothes will increase her confidence as she continues her job search.

"I'm grateful," Achey said. "I can't thank them enough."

Samantha Fuchs can be reached at (727) 869-6235 or [email protected]

Comments
Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

The biggest hospitals in Houston had a problem.To earn a prized institutional certification, they needed more nurses with bachelor of science degrees in nursing.But local colleges were more focused on turning out nurses with two-year degrees who, to ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA — The days ahead were supposed to be bright.For weeks, the future of health care tech company CareSync had been thrown into question as founder and CEO and founder Travis Bond unexpectedly departed, kicking off multiple rounds of layoffs. But t...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Here’s an intriguing set of facts: Coal produces the same percentage of the world’s electricity as 20 years ago. Oil and gas remain about level, too.Same for nonfossil fuel sources. In other words, the massive push towards renewables over the past co...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

A cancer lurks within Florida’s otherwise rosy job numbers, one that’s been called a quiet catastrophe and an intractable time bomb.Too many men between the ages of 25 and 54 have stopped working.Economists call those the prime-age years. Incomes gen...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

ST. PETERSBURG — The 16th annual St. Pete Pride Parade is getting ready to march along the downtown waterfront the second straight year. But many hope to move past the division caused last year when the parade was uprooted from its original hom...
Published: 06/22/18
For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

ST. PETERSBURG — For sale: a 104-year-old elementary school with restaurant and wine shop. It even has a title company where you can close the deal.Less than a year after completing a major renovation of the historic North Ward school, developer Jona...
Published: 06/22/18
Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

TAMPA — When the 2008 financial crash brought down the nation’s housing market, hundreds of home builders went out of business. Among them was Sharon McSwain Homes in Atlanta, forced to liquidate in 2009.But just as developers like to develop, builde...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

TAMPA — Two of the city’s hottest developers — the companies behind Ulele and the Armature Works — are heading to court over control of an old city building that sits between the hit eateries. Both want to redevelop the city&...
Published: 06/21/18
Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Associated PressFlorida’s busiest airport is becoming the first in the nation to require a face scan of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights, including U.S. citizens, according to officials there. The expected announcement T...
Published: 06/21/18
Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Hours after Tesla had sued its former employee on charges he had stolen company secrets, and days after chief Elon Musk had called him a saboteur, the Silicon Valley automaker made a startling claim. The company had received a call from a friend of t...
Published: 06/21/18