What's Right With the Region
Employment Connection is proud to have been chosen as one of FOCUS St. Louis' What's Right With the Region Award honorees in 2021. We are grateful to have been recognized as an outstanding organization in the Promoting Stronger Communities category and look forward to celebrating with the other honorees on May 13, 2021. Thank you to all of our partners and donors who allow us to continue to assist our clients along their pathway to self-sufficiency!
To learn more about the 2021 FOCUS St. Louis Awardees click here.
Solar Panel Installation Training:
Opening Doors to New Career Opportunities
"Our commitment as an organization is to continue to pursue as many different career path opportunities for our clients as we can." - Sal Martinez, CEO of Employment Connection
We are excited to have the opportunity to expose our clients to the growing Solar Power construction industry!
Our first cohort completed the program in December of 2020 and we are excited to already be able to share some of their successes. One of our pilot program participants was Tavion, the youngest member of our cohort. Tavion showed up on time to our Job Readiness Training every day as a result of the transportation assistance we were able to provide him via Uber. He went on to complete his "Introduction to Solar Voltaics" training provided by the IBEW and obtained his OSHA-10 certification through BUD. At the conclusion of that component of the program, he applied for an internship with one of our solar industry partners; Straight Up Solar, made it through 2 rounds of interviews, and was then ultimately selected to participate in the 3-week paid internship. During the last week of this field experience, he was then offered a full-time position at the company! We would like to congratulate Tavion for his outstanding work!
In the Spring of 2021, we plan to welcome a second cohort into this exciting program, so stay tuned for more updates to come. We are proud to continue providing this new, specialized training opportunity to our clients. By providing relevant skills, supportive services, and hands-on experiences, this program can continue to open doors to exciting and lucrative careers in this industry!
Cure Violence At Work
In 2020, Employment Connection was selected to launch 2 Cure Violence sites in the Wells-Goodfellow/Hamilton Heights and Dutchtown neighborhoods in the City of St. Louis. Our Cure Violence staff have been hard at work building relationships with high-risk individuals in those communities and have been mediating and de-escalating dangerous conflicts between community members. Recently, one of our Dutchtown Violence Interrupters was recognized by a member of the community for his outstanding work:
"I wanted to let you know what kind of impact that the folks at Cure Violence and Employment Connection are having in our community. What sparked this email was a situation that developed this afternoon and was met with a very positive resolution that could have otherwise ended very differently had it not been for the work of one of your Dutchtown Violence Interrupters.
One of the pillars we are developing in our community for block organizing is easy and quick ways of communication. Through a GroupMe group chat we have been using for a couple years now, one neighbor let us know that she saw an individual with a knife heading towards Louisiana Ave...She [said] that she "tried calling it in but was on hold with 911 for 6 minutes. No one answered and then it hung up."
After seeing her message I immediately called into 911 and after a couple minutes on hold got through and read her description to dispatch. At the same time as I was on hold with SLMPD, the Violence Interrupter "VI" jumped in his car and went looking for this guy. Before the police could find the suspect, the VI found him, approached him and proceeded to learn that this guy was out looking for someone who "wronged him". When the VI approached him the guy broke down and opened up to him.
Ultimately, this VI did exactly what we all hope Cure Violence would do in that he intervened and prevented this guy from perpetuating violence in retaliation for someone doing something to him as well as de-escalated a situation that one could fear would have ended much differently if police would have found him armed.
I want you all to know that there are positive things happening in our community. The press have a tendency to report when violence and murder happen in our neighborhood but here is an opportunity to report the opposite.
Cure Violence is making a great impact in our community with their boots on the ground and with community engagement leading their way. They have been tremendous community partners, especially considering how new they are to our community. Speaking for many of my neighbors, we are all very excited for what work they will accomplish going forward."*
We look forward to sharing more stories such as this one in 2021. We are so proud of our Cure Violence teams and the work they are doing in the St. Louis Community.
*This quote was modified slightly to protect the identity of our EC-Cure Violence Interrupter and the high-risk client he engaged with during this dangerous encounter.
Black History Month
Employment Connection is proud to celebrate Black History Month. Throughout the month of February, we have been recognizing local leaders in the St. Louis region.
Dr. Fredrick Echols is the Director of the City of St. Louis Department of Health - the first medical doctor to serve as health director since 2007. Prior to becoming Director, Echols, 37, served as the Director of Communicable Disease, Vector and Veterinary Programs for the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, where he was responsible for overseeing daily operations, strategic planning, fiscal management of a multi-million dollar budget and program development and implementation.
Prior to starting his position with St. Louis County, Echols served as Chief of Communicable Diseases for the Illinois Department of Public Health and as a physician in the U.S. Navy, where he managed a staff of medical and ancillary personnel.
Echols holds a bachelor’s degree in biology/pre-med from Clark Atlanta University and a medical degree from the Boston University School of Medicine. He is a current member of the American Public Health Association, Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists, the American Sexual Health Association, and several other professional organizations and national workgroups.
Dr. Echols has done an exemplary job of helping to navigate the City of St. Louis through the COVID-19 pandemic and has been instrumental in facilitating strategic partnerships with organizations such as; Affinia Health Care, St. Louis Housing Authority, and the St. Louis Integrated Health Network in order to provide critical services to at-risk individuals.
Angela Pinex is a passionate nonprofit leader dedicated to community revitalization and she works to provide Spanish Lake families the quality life they deserve. A graduate of Saint Louis University and Fisk University, a Nashville HBCU, she's worked 20+ years to increase affordable housing, elevate community voices and improve the economic mobility of St. Louis' most vulnerable. Angela loves what she does and is an unapologetic advocate for North St. Louis County.
Alana Green is the Executive Director of the St. Louis Housing Authority, whose mission is to provide diverse housing opportunities and to enhance the quality of life of the families served. In this capacity, she is responsible for a $70 million budget and oversees all aspects of the organization’s operations, including 2,790 public housing units, and approximately 7,000 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) units. Ms. Green has an extensive housing and community development background, spanning almost 20 years. She earned a Juris Doctorate Degree with a concentration in Urban Development, Land Use and Environmental Law and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, both from Saint Louis University. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from Truman State University.
Abdul-Kaba Abdullah is a native of St. Louis, MO. He has over 15 years of experience in governmental affairs, as well as community & economic development in the St. Louis Region. Abdul is one of the premier young civic leaders in the St. Louis Region. In 2016, he was honored as 40 under 40 by The St. Louis Business Journal for his achievements and in 2015, was recognized by the St. Louis American Newspaper Foundation. for his accomplishments as the youngest African American City Manager in Missouri at the time. He serves on the Board of Directors for North Newstead Association, Community Builders Network (CBN), and the Simmons Bank Community Advisory Board. Currently, he serves as Executive Director of Park Central Development, a Community Development Corporation that operates in Ten (10) neighborhoods in St. Louis, manages five (5) special taxing district, two Commercial Districts (The Grove and the CWE End), that have generated over and has helped to facilitate over 800 Million dollars in development within the City of St. Louis.
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