Eastern Kentucky workforce program receives $1.5 million federal grant
MANCHESTER, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – Volunteers of America Mid-States today announced the launch of a transformational workforce development program in eastern Kentucky supported by a highly competitive $1.5 million federal grant.
Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities (WORC) is a dynamic workforce development and training program that will change the lives of hundreds of eastern Kentucky residents, whose struggles with substance use has sidelined them from work. An investment of this size in the eastern region of the Commonwealth is unprecedented.
“For those in eastern Kentucky who have struggled with substance abuse and job displacement and believed they were hopeless and alone, this is a message that help is on the way,” said Jennifer Hancock, President and CEO of Volunteers of America. “This partnership will help to transform lives.”
Volunteers of America Mid-States will lead the partnership with Eastern Kentucky University, AdventHealth Manchester, Goodwill Industries and other community agencies to provide workforce case management, job training and supportive services to people in addiction recovery in Bell, Clay, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Leslie, McCreary and Whitley counties.
Leaders from both organizations as well as US Representative Hal Rogers and Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers marked the announcement at EKU’s Manchester campus.
“As more people recover from substance use disorder in our region, this program will equip them with the skills and tools they need to take the next steps in their journey. Earning a paycheck helps build confidence and self-worth, reminding folks that they can be trusted again with the responsibilities of working to provide for themselves and their families,” said Congressman Rogers, a longtime champion in the fight against drug abuse. “This program is ultimately about restoring hope for families in our region, hope for recovery and hope for living an abundant, drug-free life.”
The grant from the U.S. Department of Labor is for Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities (WORC) and will support VOA’s recovery reintegration program to help move people from active addiction, to recovery, and back into the workforce.
“We are pleased to partner with Volunteers of America for this work that is so crucial to the long-term health of our region,” said EKU President, Dr. David McFaddin. “Recovery mixed with job opportunity gives people a present and future blueprint to success.’’
Over the grant’s three-year term, VOA expects to serve nearly 350 people whose challenges with substance use disorder have kept them from meaningful work.
“When people recovering from addiction are ready to return to work, they are often at a loss for how to step back into the working world,“ said President Stivers. “The VOA and WORC partnership provides them the guidance and resources they need to be gainfully employed again. It’s a wonderful partnership.”
Volunteers of America team member Sue Fox attended VOA’s Recovery Community Center and has worked both at the RCC and VOA’s Freedom house program. Fox said her experience shows that people can overcome years lost to substance use and can return to the workforce as healthy contributors to their communities.
“This is the message and the work that so many people of different ages and backgrounds need,” Fox said. “That is my story – I am not alone.”