The Scoop with Amy Doyle: LADDER Celebrates 20 Years of Preparing Clients for Employment

Amy Doyle
Amy Doyle. Photo by Bonfire Visuals

What is SHARE? This non-profit organization was formed in the 1960s when the federal government declared a war on poverty. SHARE means Sunbelt Human Advancement Resources and is a community action agency serving Greenville, Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties. The goal of the agency – and the 1,000 other similar agencies across the country – is to provide assistance to people experiencing poverty and encourage their advancement. The agency’s action items are unique in each community.

What is SHARE focusing on in Greenville? SHARE offers a host of programs, including Operation Warmth, which provides assistance with winter energy bills and home repairs, including emergency home repairs. A unique program within the SHARE family of services is the LADDER program.

What is LADDER? It’s a fancy acronym, but in short, it’s a vocational and soft skills training program that prepares participants for higher-paying jobs. Bruce Forbes, director of SHARE, recognizes the importance of improving wages as a means of upward mobility at the local level. “Every community can do it; you just need the political will to do it.

Enter the door. People may take for granted the soft skills taught to prepare for work, but there are adults without role models or training. Career coach LADDER Quiwanna “Q” James has no sense when it comes to career training. She strives to break down generational issues by creating an environment conducive to success.

Set the bar high. James expects all clients to arrive 15 minutes early for interviews. (It’s late!) A proper dress code is required (James has taught many job seekers how to tie a proper tie). She also works with clients to create life plans; a child care plan and transportation, for example. She works on communication skills, interview questions and prepares to participate in the interview. It helps to create waiting lists to prepare for interviews. If you’ve never been learned, how would you know not to smoke before an interview? James says absolutely no heavy cologne or cigarette smoke is allowed before the interview or work.

By the numbers: The majority of the LADDER program is funded by the federal government and it is estimated that it costs $5,000 per client to complete the program. The City of Greenville and United Way are partners in supporting the program. Overall, the program operates with an annual budget of $200,000. When the program began in 2002, clients earned an average of $5.15 per hour (minimum wage). This year, graduates earn an average of $17.19 per hour, or about $36,000 per year. The two popular programs are the Certified Nursing Assistant and the Commercial Driver’s License, in partnership with Greenville Technical College.

happy 20th birthday! How are the customers doing? At a recent luncheon celebrating LADDER’s 20th anniversary, people stood up and testified. Nearly 1,000 graduates have completed the program and are earning more and creating more stable family environments. The increase in individual salary decreases the families’ need for charity. More importantly, this individual achievement alters a cycle of poverty. The Forbes director and Q are ready for the next 20 years.

Do you know anyone who could benefit from LADDER program? Sign up here….

Amy Ryberg Doyle served 12 years on the Greenville City Council. She is married and has four children. An avid outdoorswoman, she enjoys biking, swimming, and running, but not in that order. She takes naps every day.

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