STEPHENVILLE — While Georgina White prefers not to say how she was in conflict with the law, she has turned her life around.
White is quick to credit the big change in her life to the John Howard Society’s support, through the Horizons Program, sponsored by the Department of Advanced Education and Skills.
As a proud and confident employee of McDonald’s on Main Street in Stephenville, White has come a long way from the time she had to go to court, but luckily didn’t have to do any prison time.
“I was really in a down-and-out situation when I approached the John Howard Society, and did some things I shouldn’t have,” she said.
Through the Horizons Program, funding is provided for six people, aged 29 years and up, and employers are sought as sponsors. Over the duration of the 26-week work term, Horizons pays $9 an hour, while the employer pays the remaining dollar for the person’s wages.
Once a person is matched with an employer, the intent is that it will lead to full-time employment.
While White did her sponsorship in maintenance work at Silver’s Apartments in Stephenville, she landed her full-time job later at McDonald’s and credits the support of the John Howard Society and the Horizons program for making her more employable.
That’s because she was provided with training in First Aid, WHMIS, traffic control, and Occupational Health and Safety. These are courses that are costly for companies to provide to their workers, who also have to be away from the job to take the training courses.
The John Howard Society of Newfoundland and Labrador is a community-based, volunteer organization that works to reduce crime by providing opportunities for the rehabilitation of offenders and advocating reform.
White had just completed her Adult Basic Education at College of the North Atlantic when she approached the society, went on to her sponsorship job, and drew Employment Insurance for about six weeks.
“I got sick of that and went out looking for a job and now, 10 months after getting hired, I’m still working at McDonald’s,” she said.
Charlie Young, regional director for the John Howard Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, said the organization’s clients are on income support, challenged in getting employment or have employment barriers.
“Our program is intended to get them partnered with a local employer so they can obtain the skills to become productive members for the workforce,” he said.
Leanna Morris, program co-ordinator, said many Horizons clients are taking a big step to make the transition back into the workforce.
“Sometimes we have people with very low self-esteem, but at the end (chances are) so high he or she is ready to take on the world,” she said.
Morris said the program’s clients have gone on to enrol in college and take such courses as electrician and mechanics. She said the majority of the clients find full-time employment.