One of our missions at Construction Citizen is to help match future craft professionals with jobs that will benefit their families over the long haul while helping to create a sustainable workforce for the industry. The beauty of it is that those things go hand in hand, but we cannot do it alone.
That is why we launched the Craft Careers section of our publication a few months ago and why we have partnered with Community Family Centers more recently to host a discussion for their adult students about career opportunities. We will be doing much more on all these fronts and working with other community service organizations as well.
When we first began working with Community Family Centers, it occurred to me that many of our readers might not know much about this organization that’s doing so much for families in the area.
Maritza Guerrero, President and CEO, said that their mission is straightforward: To equip families in the area with the tools they need to become self-sufficient members of the community. Guerrero is “thrilled to support this craft professional program because it opens more opportunities to our students that will help them achieve their dreams and hopes for a better future,” she said.
The group started out quite humbly as a group of community volunteers working out of a church basement. Today, CFC has grown into an agency with a $2.7 million annual operating budget, nearly 50 staff members and roughly 250 volunteers serving more than 44,000 clients every year.
Guerrero, an immigrant from Columbia, has been working at CFC for 21 years, which is quite an accomplishment in and of itself. She started out as a counselor and, after obtaining her master’s degree, worked her way into administration. “That was a whole new challenge,” she said.
When talking about the various programs and services offered at their facility in the city’s historic East End, it is clear that Guerrero takes pride in what she and her team have built. “Maybe I’d like to go back to counseling someday,” she said with a smile.
Most of the people served by Community Family Centers are first introduced to the team when they walk in the front door, Guerrero said. Finding a way for people in need to become self-sufficient is a process that that’s carried out quite methodically. A 40 minute assessment is done with each client in which they’re asked a variety of questions to figure out their real requirements.
"Very basic stuff," Guerrero said of the needs people have when they come through the front doors: Food, education, child care, and other things that make it possible for folks who are struggling to eventually become contributing members of society. The team distributes so much food to people in the community, in fact, that it is second only to the Houston Food Bank in tonnage distributed in Southeast Texas, Guerrero said.
Many people in the neighborhood are able to obtain their GEDs after taking the general education classes Community Family Centers has to offer as well as sharpen their English reading, writing, and speaking skills in ESL courses. There is also a Montessori school on site.
The computer lab is one place that adult education students and other clients will interface directly with the Craft Community pages of Construction Citizen, Guerrero said.
"This is an opportunity to present it generally, even though the industry may be looking for people who are interested in a specific skill set,” she said. But, there is no reason that as many people as possible shouldn’t be exposed to career opportunities in the skilled trades. “It can be presented to the general population because they don’t know what they don’t know,” she said.
“To have a virtual community showing them a career pathway gives them a broader vision of what they can do and how they can fit in,” Guerrero said.
You can find out much more about Community Family Centers and make a donation on their website.