Rockaway chief wants to get residents into jobs program

Rockaway Beach is hoping some of its residents can get a leg up, rather than being locked up.

At a board of aldermen meeting last week, Police Chief Jody Intravia recommended working with a Branson-based jobs program to help some of Rockaway Beach’s residents get their lives straightened out.

Intravia said he’d been talking to Jesus Was Homeless about getting some of Rockaway Beach’s residents into a Jobs for Life program that helps individuals develop the skills to transition from poverty to self-sustaining employment.

“It would be something different than us just going out and busting everybody, taking them to jail so they can sit there for 24 hours and then get out and get charged,” Intravia said. “It’s not getting us anywhere. All we’re doing is we’re going backwards.”

He said he and Alderman Rex Wood visited with Jesus Was Homeless about the program.

Carla Perry was at the meeting, representing the Jobs for Life program. She said communities experience a lot of generational poverty and dysfunctional family life. Those situations make it difficult for individuals to lift themselves out of poverty.

“People don’t know what they don’t know, and they often just go with the crowd they fit into,” Perry said.

With Jobs for Life, those individuals are paired with a mentor who serves as an example.

“Maybe you don’t know how to fill an application,” Perry said. “Maybe you don’t know what a good employee looks like.”

She said area businessmen volunteer as mentors. Some of their positive influence is simply in providing moral support.

“The first thing is (students) learn somebody cares,” Perry said. “They have somebody in their life who is cheering them on. Maybe they’ve never had anyone say, “Hey, I’m proud of you. you did a good job.”

She said the program requires work, so not everyone graduates. She said the nine-week program has had 120 graduates. Of those 77 percent are working full-time jobs with benefits. She said 49 percent of those graduates have moved for homelessness and weekly rental motels into permanent housing. Ten percent have gotten promotions.

The city would be required to help get the residents to the Jobs for Life program.

The aldermen requested the Jesus Was Homeless put together a proposal for the aldermen to consider.

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