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Reno Works program leads to employment

Annie Conway
aconway@nnbw.biz
Graduates of the third Reno Works program stand with City and Volunteers of America Northern Nevada officials.
Annie Conway/NNBW |

The City of Reno and the Volunteers of America of Northern Nevada held a graduation ceremony recently for the third Reno Works class.

Reno Works is a 10-week program which provides homeless shelter residents skills, mentorship and resources to address temporary employment, including safety and work training, skills training, long-term employment support, wrap-around case management and mentoring, according to a City of Reno press release. The goal of the program is for the participants in the program to obtain full-time, long-term employment in northern Nevada and to transition the residents out of the homeless shelter and into permanent housing.

Seven graduates of the Reno Works 3 class were recognized at the graduation ceremony held Thursday, May 5 at City Hall. The majority of the graduates had already found full-time employment.

“You are not only changing your own lives, you are changing the live of the people watching you go through (the program),” Reno City Councilmember Neoma Jardon said to the graduates.

The ceremony was attended by city officials, members of the business community and proud family members of the graduates.

“This is one event that has me in awe,” Mayor Hillary Schieve said at the event.

The seven graduates included: Paul Chambers, who is now employed with the City of Reno Parks, Recreation and Community Service; Robert Clark, who is now employed with Chartwell Staffing Solutions; Deborah McCoy, who is now employed with The Service Companies; Shae Slove, who is seeking employment; Nicholas Smith, who is now employed with HC Companies; Victor Turner, who is now employed with Petco; and Brian Williams, who is now employed with My Community Store.

“This is just the beginning of a whole new life,” Pat Cashell, regional director for Volunteers of America Northern Nevada, said. “Welcome to your new world.”

The graduates received a certificate for completing the program, a letter of recommendation, a gift card to Plato’s Closet and an RTC bus pass at the ceremony.

“RW3, we did it guys,” Brian Williams said to his follow Reno Works graduates at the ceremony.

Reno Works started as a pilot program funded with some surplus funds from the City of Reno. The cost for the program is $2,240 per person or $32 a day. According to the city, the cost to the community for an unsheltered homeless individual can be between $150-$500 a day.

They are seeing success from the program. According to Councilmember Jardon, all 21 of the past Reno Works graduates are still out of the shelter.

“This program has proven to be very successful,” Jardon said.

However, there is still more to be done.

“The individual coming out of the homeless shelter gets supported housing. But often times they turn the key and they have nothing,” Jardon said. The City of Reno is trying to work with the faith-based community to create a better pipeline to get these individuals the things they need after they get out of the shelter and encourage donations from the community.

Reno Works is supported through local businesses and community members who contribute time, money and opportunities for employment for the Reno Works graduates. “I think that it is really important that we recognize all of the employers,” Jardon said.

Local businesses who contribute to the program financially or have provided jobs include many of the casinos, such as the Peppermill Reno, the Nugget Casino Resort, Atlantis, the City of Reno, Federal Express, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Cintas and more.

Reno Works 4 is scheduled to start June 13. Those interested in donating to the program can contact Sandy Ishim at sisham@noa-ncnn.org or go to voa-ncnn.org. Volunteers of America of Northern Nevada asks that Reno Works be referenced in all donations.