Frederick News Post - Working to get Low-income Residents on the Job

Monday, March 3, 2014 Frederick News-Post

By ED WATERS JR., News-Post Staff

ewaters@newspost.com

The job market can be challenging, but even more so for residents of low-income communities.

The Rotary Club of Carroll Creek launched a program last year that provided mentors, training and internships for half a dozen participants.

The Rotarian Initiative for Successful Employment held its pilot program last year. Besides basic employment skills, RISE put interns in Community Living, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Immigration Matters and Clustered Spires Bakery.

A success story

Jason Lee grew up in what was the Sagner community, now called Lucas Village. He had worked with local youth groups, and when he found out about the RISE program, he joined the first group.

Through mentoring and the experience he gained in RISE, Lee started his own business — Top Quality Janitorial Services.

“It really gave me an appetite to help others, to give back to the community,” Lee said, “and the opportunity to start my own business.”

Mentors led Lee through the challenges and opportunities of starting a business. They worked with him on financing, marketing, legal requirements for hiring employees, taxes and other aspects of launching anew venture.

Lee now has 70 employees, many from low-income communities. He has clients in Frederick and Montgomery counties, as well as Loudoun County, Va.

Lee is now part of the RISE mentor group and says he is glad to give back by helping others realize their dreams.

“There will be great continuity with the second group,” he said of the RISE program. “This could be a model for otherorganizations.”

Helping the community

The program has so far focused on Lucas Village near the Frederick Fairgrounds, said Ann Ryan of the Frederick Housing Authority. As coordinator of the authority’s Project Alive program, Ryan works with residents of Lucas Village, Carver Apartments and Lincoln Apartments on educational and training programs.