Workforce Success Story Submitted By:
Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board
Shearine McGee knows a lot about both Food Stamps and hunger – and Way to Work Philadelphia! put that knowledge to good use. Earlier this year, McGhee, 31, of North Philadelphia, a single mother with two daughters ages 5 and 2½, found herself on public assistance (including Food Stamps), with no job prospects and no child support. She was renting a room in her mother’s home. Things looked bleak, although McGhee tried to remain optimistic. “Nobody wants to stay on welfare for the rest of their life,” she said. “Welfare is a crutch. I didn’t want to sit around.”
One of the requirements for receiving public assistance was visiting one of Philadelphia’s EARN Centers, which are designed for those receiving public assistance to make themselves more marketable in the job force. There McGhee learned how to work and dress professionally, was taught computer skills and wrote her resume. McGhee then attended and graduated from Metropolitan Career Center, further honing her job skills.
Outcomes & Benefits
Around the same time, her participation in Way to Work Philadelphia! -- the initiative funded by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to provide wage reimbursement that enabled local employers to hire adult employees – paid off. McGhee was hired by the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. McGhee worked as a Food Stamp counselor, visiting WIC Centers (The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) to tell clientele about available fruit and vegetable vouchers and participating in a Witnesses to Hunger photography program that documented hunger in the community. “This is something I know about. I’m in their shoes,” she said. “This was the perfect job for me.” Through Way to Work, McGhee earned $13 per hour, was able to better care for her daughters and secured a federal Housing and Urban Development low-income apartment of her own. McGhee called for the extension of Way to Work Philadelphia!, noting that she still sometimes walks a fine line with her finances. “I cried when I got the letter saying Sept. 30 was my last day on the job,” he said. “I loved it. This puts me back at square one.”