For those with spring cleaning or other chores that need to be done but have no spare time, a new program can solve that problem and help local people with barriers to employment gain a foothold in the job market.
The Missoula Interfaith Collaborative has formed a supportive staffing agency called Missoula Works that puts people who are homeless or have been incarcerated to work in local businesses.
Recently, the program expanded to include a general labor crew called the “Get it Done Crew,” which is equipped to perform a variety of services at homes or businesses. The proceeds go directly to individuals who need a job and to Family Promise, a local shelter that houses homeless families.
“It’s a place where folks can get started working right away and kind of have that support and mentorship and track record of good employment,” explained Casey Dunning, the executive director and founder of the MIC. “They get a reference and gain the necessary soft skills, like how you show up on time, how you work with other crew members and deal with conflict. It gets them ready and prepared for the next step.”
The goal, Dunning said, is to transition people to being self-sufficient and able to work and pay for their own housing. People who are homeless or who have a criminal background often face a Catch-22 when trying to get a job, because they don’t have good references, which means they can’t get that first foot in the door.
People trying to turn their lives around often are at risk of returning to homelessness or crime because of these barriers to employment. For the MIC, the goal is to help both these people and society as a whole to reduce the number of people in jail or prison or on the streets.
A 2012-2013 Human Resource Council study showed that the lack of steady, full-time employment was the most frequent reason given for homelessness, according to Rebecca Pettit of the MIC.
Pettit said that the “Get it Done Crew” has already been working for a few weeks. One of its clients, Mike Robinson, is a husband and father of three who has a full-time job and was too busy to work on a rental unit before a family moved in. He told MIC officials that the crew did an “immaculate” job.
“We are trying to find more projects for them,” Pettit said.
The crew is supervised by an MIC staff member, and Dunning said they’ve worked out all the kinks. Now, Missoula Works employs 10 people, with a crew of six on the labor crew.
“Missoula Works as an entire business is both a staffing agency that connects and employs people with other business, and also the Get it Done Crew,” Dunning said. “The crew will do basically anything from yard service to building and home maintenance. We’ve gotten a pretty good response so far and our plan is to get booked up for the whole summer.”
The MIC will also launch an IndiGoGo campaign to raise funds for the project. For more information visit www.micmt.org.