Jubilee Jobs Offers Employment Help on National Day of Service

Volunteers help applicants with online job applications.

Posted: 01/19/2013 03:25 PM EST
Jubilee Jobs staff

What started out as an operation with just a desk, two chairs and a telephone, Jubilee Jobs has grown to a 16-person-staff organization committed to helping Washington, D.C., residents get back to work.

Stationed in a two-story rowhouse in Northwest Washington, the nonprofit’s mission is to get D.C. residents jobs that will help them “work for sustenance, hope and dignity.”

So on Jan. 19, Jubilee Jobs opened its doors to a handful of volunteers for the National Day of Service—and took a few steps toward securing jobs for applicants. Since 1981, Jubilee Jobs has placed 23,000 D.C. residents in jobs. In 2012, the organization secured jobs for 1,002 people—nearly half of them ex-offenders, nearly a third of them homeless. More than 90 percent of the applicants that Jubilee Jobs sees are African-American.

Shortly before the two-hour event was to begin, Mitzi Matthews, 27, stood outside and talked on her cell phone—several minutes early because lateness is one thing Jubilee Jobs doesn’t tolerate.

For Matthews, who has been unemployed for a year, she ultimately wants to secure a job in the medical field. Previously employed by a telemarketing company, she hopes her next job will provide her with enough money to continue her education.

“Jubilee Jobs offers their services to everyone, underprivileged, homeless, ex-convicts, whatever,” Matthews says. “It’s really a blessing that they help this community.”

Valbert Lucas, 48, with his coat still on and a little winded from rushing over from the bus, has been unemployed for a year and a half when he lost his job as a utility clerk at the U.S. Capitol building. His dream job is to be a chef, so he’s looking for opportunities in the food services industry for now—anxiously waiting for a call back after a job fair last week.

Lucas has been coming in to Jubilee Jobs for the past three weeks. He says he’s really learned a lot from the workshops—a 10-day series focusing on interviewing, conflict-resolution management and setting goals. The goal-setting workshop, appropriately named “Eyes on the Prize,” focuses on not just getting a job, but also focusing on future plans that can help applicants toward their dream job.

“Our program is designed to think about the next step,” says Terry Flood, the executive director. “The end result is that they would be working in a job that is sustainable and be able to live and have opportunities to further their employment.”

Terry Flood, the executive director of Jubilee Jobs, says the organization’s mission is directly in line with Martin Luther King Jr.’s dreams and hopes for America, especially as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

“In 1963, the March on Washington was really remembered for the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, which was wonderful, but really it was a march around jobs and freedom,” Flood says. “We are using this year to emphasize that [the dream] is not finished. Jobs and freedom are very much needed. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

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