Hello, My name is Sarah Carson and I am the case manager for The Massillon Comprehensive Case Management Employment Program (CCMEP). I am excited to share with you about CCMEP, and how CCMEP Massillon has been affected throughout the previous months due to the impact of COVID-19. CCMEP is a partnership program between Goodwill and Ohio Means Jobs, with funding from the Workforce Initiative Association. The goal of CCMEP is to help individuals between 16 and 24 years old obtain a job and maintain a job. This is a long-term employment program that combines intensive case management and job coaching to reduce life barriers and gain employment skills. Although the program looks slightly different for everyone, most participants are actively involved through work experience in the Goodwill Stores and class time. Participants rely on CCMEP Massillon provide them with a mentor/advocate, to show them how to maintain a job and achieve personal independence. The impact of CCMEP Massillon is truly life changing.
COVID-19 began with many challenges to our program. I asked myself as the case manager, “am I able to help these participants in the ways that they need under the circumstances of COVID?” I quickly realized quickly that I did not have a choice. These participants rely on CCMEP for assistance with not only employment but any areas of life that are creating barriers for them. CCMEP provides motivation for individuals to seek addiction treatment, enroll in GED classes, study for their temporary license, find stable housing, seek mental health treatment, file their taxes, and overall to learn what it means to be independent. Participants completed their class and work hours at home through packet work which educated them on various employment related areas and financial literacy. The participants and I found creative ways to touch base and have intentional conversations regarding their lives and their employment goals. We made the most of the time we spent completing programming from home. Once the stores opened again, participants were eager to return to work. We had spent so much time just talking about building skills and how to support their goals that they were all excited to return and implement our discussions.
One participant that I would like to highlight had never really had a job prior to CCMEP. She struggled greatly with transportation and knowing how to properly balance work and life. Once the store opened again, the participant began working just a few hours in the store with me present as a job coach. Weeks later, this participant was working without constant job coaching 20 hours at the Goodwill Store, traveling to and from work independently, and is thriving! She utilized her time during the COVID-19 shut down to think about her goals and found motivation to push herself outside her comfort zone.
CCMEP Massillon as a whole has doubled the number of participants since COVID-19. The world is facing challenges that no one could have predicted. The growth in participants speaks volumes of the magnitude and importance of building job skills. Goodwill shoppers and donors help provide our participants experience with customer service, organization and so many more skills. Their employment journey is just beginning with the CCMEP program and their destination of employment will lead them down paths of great success. Future engineers, teachers, construction workers, and other careers that provide sustainable wages are getting their start thanks to your support for our mission programs.