The Future of our Southeast Pre-Employment Program: Shanta Hendry
When Shanta Hendry first came to Bread for the City, it was, like many of our staff and volunteers, as a client. Shanta had returned from serving in the Army Reserves and was looking for a job, which proved to be elusive. After temping for years, she was trying to save a little extra money. She had her first apartment, her first car, and a daughter to care for. Bread for the City’s food program helped her to bridge the gap until she secured permanent employment.
After working at other non-profit organizations in the city; she still had a desire to work at Bread for the City. 25 years later there was an opened position in BFC’s Representative Payee Program, and Shanta was excited to apply. She says, “My desire to work at BFC was still there after all of these years. Once returning from Basic Training; this was now my neighborhood and BFC was a major part of it. I just wanted to return the good deeds and blessings they had given me and my daughter in my time of need…now both my daughter and I work for Bread!”
As part of the Representative Payee Program team, Shanta worked to ensure that disabled DC residents could maintain their housing and safety by managing their social security benefits. Remembering her own struggle to find employment, Shanta took the initiative to launch a jobs board in our Northwest Center and developed a network of contacts in different industries to provide her with job listings.
This proved to be a very effective strategy for connecting our clients with employment opportunities, and the job board was so well-received that last year, in her free time, Shanta held an Employment Fair that drew 60 people and many employers to our Northwest Center. Six job seekers were even hired on the spot!
Bread for the City recognized a rising star in Shanta, and this summer she was promoted to the role of Pre-Employment Program Manager – a perfect fit for her passion for workforce development and helping job seekers find employment.
Our Pre-Employment Program (PEP) works with unemployed and underemployed clients by providing life management and job-readiness training services that are individualized, holistic and goal-specific. PEP helps clients build confidence and skills such as time and resource management, writing an effective resume, financial literacy, professional conduct, and developing work relationships. Participants gather twice a week for group classroom instruction and peer support, as well as meeting individually with their case manager to set personal goals and outline an implementation plan.
After a client graduates from PEP, Bread for the City continues to support them for a minimum of six months, providing both logistical support and ongoing guidance. The goals of the program are to increase participants’ confidence in job seeking and assist them in advancing their careers.
In her new role, Shanta will be managing staff, coordinating job-readiness classes, counseling job seekers, and working with leadership on program development. Her new supervisor, SE Center Director Lynda Brown, says, “To have someone who’s bringing passion to [PEP] is really important because it’s not something we can train someone on.”
But Shanta’s role is soon to be even bigger: As we plan our new Southeast Center at 1710 Good Hope Road, Bread for the City is committed to a significant expansion of our Pre-Employment Program. Our new jobs center will feature a smart classroom, computer lab, counseling rooms, and training space. With these new facilities, under Shanta’s guidance and leadership, we will be able to more than double the number of program participants to 250 each year and improve on our 75% success rate for PEP graduates who transition to stable employment, internships, or continuing education programs. If you want to learn more about our new Southeast Center and the many ways it will allow us to expand our programs and benefit our clients, be sure to check out breadforthecity.org/goodhope.
Bread for the City’s mission is to help Washington, DC residents living with low income to develop the power to determine the future of their own communities. We invest significant resources – funding, staff time, and political capital – on advocating for changes in our community that will ease the path for our clients. But, more importantly, we equip our clients with the skills to be their own advocates and succeed in life. The Pre-Employment Program is a prime example of these efforts, and we can’t wait to see the amazing things Shanta Hendry will do with it in our new Southeast Center.