Friends in Service Helping in Carson City is all about giving a hand up, not a handout, but now it wants to go a step further.
With harsh housing challenges and underemployment awaiting clients who aren’t always at the point where they can fully support themselves, FISH is offering a different solution. In 2020, FISH is preparing to introduce a pilot program called ROADS, or Realizing Opportunities for the American Dream to Succeed, to transition the families it helps from low-paying jobs to more stable, successful careers.
The ROADS program will plug participants into educational opportunities at Western Nevada College, the CIRCLES program, Carson City’s Health and Human Services and Nevada Rural Housing. They’ll have direct guidance and counseling with job interviewing skills, on-the-job skills, learn how to secure food and receive essential support from these agencies and become self-sufficient, working with regional employers and agencies.
It’s a means of helping those with interests in obtaining certificates in information technology or manufacturing programs from WNC. Young adults or single parents can fill vitally needed positions in medical careers or construction. Employers can hire these skilled workers in $18- to $24-per-hour jobs, and as they become employed, the workers graduate then pay back 60 percent of their education without interest and they commit to volunteer work, paying forward the remaining 40 percent, according to the ROADS plan.
“When they come out, they go from $8 to $10 jobs to $18 to $24 jobs,” FISH executive director Jim Peckham said. “It’ll be life-changing.”
FISH currently has one enrolled in a test pilot version of the program, according to Peckham said, and so far, it’s proving successful.
FISH’s goal to help those without giving them that “handout” sets it aside from other community services.
ROADS applicants would go through assessments, and FISH’s staff would assist them in keeping them on track to meeting their goals and finding success, Peckham said. Graduates would be encouraged to recruit potential students and continue the ROADS program.
In fiscal year 2018 alone, FISH served 7,775 people, including 388 veterans, 1,304 disabled, 2,381 children, 1,072 seniors and 1,177 new families. The organization served more than 391,000 Food Bank meals and nearly 25,000 dining room meals.
With these numbers, FISH is looking at the need to find new solutions, and Peckham said he and his staff are hoping ROADS will be a positive one.