Salvation Army Nashville Offers a 'Hand Up' to Local Unemployed

A local Salvation Army, one of the largest charities in the U.S., is helping people with a 'hand up' rather than a 'hand out' (as it's popularly known for, with its disaster relief efforts) by helping people secure employment in a tough job market.

With the national unemployment rate at 7.9 percent and a local unemployment rate at 6.2 percent, The Nashville Area Command Center of The Salvation Army provides job readiness preparation through resume writing, editing and online job searches.

Executive Director of Programs for The Nashville Area Command Center John Crawford helps those in need of job placement. Crawford stated, "We have about a dozen people per week come through our doors specifically for help in finding a job. There are many more, however, that come in asking for other services such as financial assistance with utilities and rent or for emergency food boxes. We try to not only help with their immediate needs, but also help with the root of the need, which is often a lack of employment."

In January, the number of long-term unemployed for 27 weeks or more, was at 4.7 million in the U.S. and accounted for 38.1 percent of the total unemployed. Often times, The Salvation Army clients do not come right out and state that they are in need of a job. They usually ask for some other service and The Salvation Army workers are trained to be able to detect whether or not the client is in need of job search assistance as well.

For inspiration, Crawford often refers to an old saying used within the international organization, 'We want to give a hand out as well as a hand up.' The Salvation Army wants to help people to lift themselves from crisis to stability and independence while meeting their crisis need.

The job search services provided are free and are designed specifically for each individual. It is not a 'one size fits all' approach. If a client comes in for job search assistance and does not have a resume, The Salvation Army will sit down and prepare one for them. If a client comes in with a resume that needs editing, they will provide the editing as well. Computer classes are provided for those in need of computer skills to do online job applications.

The Salvation Army Life Skills Learning Program provides many educational and developmental services for individuals within the community. Job-readiness is only one of the varieties of classes, seminars and workshops are offered throughout a given year. Bible-studies, budgeting classes, first-aid and GED courses are some of the others offer.

Life Skills Learning Program client Kelvin McConner said, "I moved to Nashville from Mississippi and stayed at a hotel upon arrival. I heard about The Salvation Army and decided to obtain some knowledge about the programs and how they could help me find a job and housing. I went in to speak with the director. We completed my resume and set some goals and action items. I received positive encouragement and prayer to help me through my troubled times. About 12 days later I was gratefully employed. I stuck with the program and gained better housing and even a new car. The Salvation Army Program was a blessing to me."