Dave Phillips doesn’t claim to be a fisherman, but he’s at the center of teaching a lot of Cincinnatians to fish. For the past 17 years, Dave and his wife Liane have developed one of the nation’s most successful poverty-to-self-reliance programs, Cincinnati Works (CW), which serves as the model for the CAC’s newest program, Northfield WORKS.
Putting to action the Chinese proverb, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime,” Cincinnati Works pairs low-income, underemployed and unemployed people with area employers to create a win-win relationship. Local employers gain access to pre-screened, reliable employees, and people living in poverty gain a bridge to economic self-reliance via sustained employment.
Cincinnati Works provides their clients with work readiness training with an emphasis on soft skills, along with a broad net of support to address barriers that have kept them from gaining and retaining employment. Once a client has sustained employment, CW staff supports them in career advancement opportunities that lead to a living wage and the dignity that comes with economic self-sufficiency.
Jim Blaha, the Community Action Center’s executive director, was involved in East St. Paul’s Welfare to Work program in the 1980s and has been waiting for the right time to create a bridge to economic self-reliance for the CAC’s low-income clients. When he read Why Don’t They Just Get a Job by Liane Phillips and Echo Montgomery Garrett, he knew he’d found kindred spirits in Cincinnati Works co-founders Dave and Liane Phillips.
Jim, CAC board member Carol Gengenbach and CAC staff member Adele Porter traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, in late October to visit with Dave and Liane Phillips and their staff at Cincinnati Works headquarters. Dave will be reciprocating with a visit to the CAC in the near future to help pave the way for adopting the structure of CW as a new program under the CAC’s umbrella of services. You are invited to meet Dave and learn more about Northfield WORKS at a meeting soon to be announced.
While the CAC isn’t looking for fishermen, we welcome the involvement of volunteers in this exciting new chapter in the CAC’s strong history of helping our neighbors in need.
For more information on volunteer opportunities and other ways to support Northfield WORKS, contact Jim Blaha via email or call 507-664-3552.