Central Corner: Jobs Plus Weavers
With the launch of Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Jobs Plus Pilot Program, two Jobs Plus Weavers have been hired: Alicia Ross and Abdullah Jackson. These weavers will engage in strategic conversations with residents of CMHA’s Outhwaite Homes Estates and Carver Park Homes to inform them about Jobs Plus and encourage them to enroll. They will contact the more than 1,400 households on both properties and saturate the community with keen marketing and messaging to explain the benefits and value of Jobs Plus. They will also remain in contact with residents to strengthen on-the-job retention and will continually provide guidance and support, as needed. Weavers receive training and a nominal stipend to perform their duties. Recruitment for additional Weavers is forthcoming.
Alicia has lived at Outhwaite Homes Estate for four years. She is a proud mother and grandmother. Alicia was a high school junior when she had her first child yet she persevered and earned her GED after completing five years of high school. In 2012, after having her second child and after more than sixteen years out of school, she chose to return to college to further her education. She enrolled in Cleveland State University (CSU) to obtain a degree in social work. This decision was difficult, but necessary, to provide a better life for her toddler son and for her daughter, who was also enrolled in college at the time. Alicia challenged herself to finish her degree within four years and she did it! In May 2015, Alicia graduated from CSU with a Bachelor of Social Work degree!
Earlier this year, Alicia enrolled in a 40-hour class not affiliated with CSU where she obtained her Chemical Dependency Counseling Assistant Certification (CDCA). Successful completion of this course was not easy because she was simultaneously taking classes at CSU, working twenty hours as a CSU student worker, and volunteering at local community agencies, while still fulfilling her responsibilities as full-time mother to her children. Alicia is now enrolled in CSU’s graduate program to earn a Master’s degree in Education. Although it might be difficult, Alicia encourages anyone who has the desire to return to school and further their education.
Alicia serves as a Lead Weaver for Jobs Plus. She has also been selected as an AmeriCorps member for the 2015-2016 service year. Through AmeriCorps, Alicia will receive training in financial literacy and will serve as a Financial Literacy Instructor, along with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, for Jobs Plus participants.
Abdullah has lived at Carver Park Estates and Outhwaite Homes Estates since childhood. He attended Central Junior High School and East Technical High School. Due to the conditions of the neighborhood and other unfortunate circumstances, like many young people his age at that time, he became a product of his environment and was unable to graduate. However, one year after his daughter was born, he obtained his GED. At that point, the transition in changing his life around had begun.
In 2011, Abdullah earned his Associate’s degree in Anthropology from Cuyahoga Community College and, in May 2015, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from Cleveland State University. He is now enrolled in a non-degree program with plans to begin his graduate studies in Social Work in the fall of 2016 at Cleveland State.