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This summer, FTCC began a partnership with Connections of Cumberland County, a Fayetteville-based organization providing a walk-in Day Resource Center serving women and mothers and their children who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.

The partnership resulted in an Employability Lab that operates on a drop-in basis and doesn’t require an appointment.
The grant-funded lab is only for clients of Connections.

The lab is equipped with computers and provides users with a range of resources and skills they’ll work on as listed below:

o Interest & aptitude assessment to determine what careers fit them
o Career exploration of what it takes to get a job in that career
o Communication skills to include problem solving and being an effective team member
o Workplace ethics, expectations and standards
o Practice completing online applications
o Learn about resumes, identify which one is best for them, write/type a resume
o Write, then practice a 30 second commercial
o Imaging & branding
o Learn job fair pointers
o Networking & social media
o Improve job interviewing skills
o NC Works registration for the Career Center

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The Employability Lab located at Connections of Cumberland County in Fayetteville. The organization and FTCC are partnering this summer to better help women and mothers better their skills to become employed if they are homeless or facing homelessness. [Photo/Alicia Banks]

Crystal Lassetter, case management/field placement coordinator for Connections, talked about the goal of providing an employment resource for clients.

“We want to have our clients brand themselves and increase their potentials of employment and maintain their housing without assistance,” she said. “And the ones at risk for homelessness? We want to prevent them from being homeless.”

Clients can visit from 10 am to 2 pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through Aug. 9. The idea for the lab began with a conversation between Lassetter and Kim Lewis, FTCC’s department chair for HRD and Career Readiness Certificate. The lab falls under FTCC’s Corporate & Continuing Education Department. Lewis toured the organization’s headquarters in downtown Fayetteville to see what partnership opportunities were available. Those talks began early 2018 and progressed with students from one of FTCC’s computer classes installing the lab as a capstone project this past spring semester. FTCC Human Resources Development (HRD) Instructor Lakeisha Marshall oversees and runs the lab. 

“We wanted to have someone who is able to work with them on a wide level,” Lassetter said about Marshall as an instructor. “We wanted someone who could help with their resumes and employability skills. We have clients who range from low-education to a master’s level.”

So far, Marshall has only had a handful of clientele visit the lab as Connections continues to inform current and new clientele about the new resource.

“They say this is a need,” Marshall noted from her conversations with clients from Connections. “And they say ‘thank you.’”

Marshall has done similar work with other organizations across Cumberland County such as the Fayetteville Area Operation Inasmuch and the Alston Wilkes Society, the latter provides rehabilitative services to adults released from correctional facilities in North and South Carolina.

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Connections of Cumberland County located on North Cool Spring Street in Fayetteville. [Photo/Alicia Banks]

Marshall welcomes the partnership between FTCC and Connections.

“I had a client come in who just broke down crying because she had a tough day. She was evicted,” Marshall said, adding what she hopes to provide to the women and mothers. “I want to encourage the clients to think positive of themselves. There are a lot of people in the community that need help like what Connections is giving. I’m thankful for the opportunity to help.”

Since 2014, Connections of Cumberland County has opened 761 cases for women who are homeless or at-risk. The numbers for children and infants are higher combined, 972 and 17 respectfully. Numerous factors can contribute to homelessness such as not having a savings account to fall back on when a crisis arises, insufficient income or falling into the many cycles of poverty – living paycheck to paycheck.

Lassetter said Connections will evaluate the Employability Lab’s progress after it ends next month.

“Our goal is to continue it,” Lassetter said. “Our organization wants to have a safe place for clients to come and feel respected and dignity, no matter their situation. We want to help their families maintain stability.”

Connections of Cumberland County is located at 119 North Cool Spring Street.
To learn more about Connections of Cumberland County, click here. If you are a woman with or without children and at-risk of or are homeless, contact Connections at 910-630-0106 or info@connectionsofcc.org.