FEATURE STORIES

The Power of (Workforce) One


by Gregory Thomas
August 2009

 

When one grows up as a child, he or she expects to be provided with food, clothes, and shelter. Unfortunately, these are basic survival needs that some children are not privileged enough to have. When a maturing young person is deprived of these necessities, it becomes so challenging and devastating that he or she can be adversely impacted physically, emotionally, and mentally.

To get a better understanding of the problems underprivileged youth encounter, Jean Chase, a board member at Workforce One of Clermont County, Ohio, shared insights into her innovative work with youth in an effort to address these issues.

Workforce One is a “One-Stop” employment and training center that provides services and instruction to children experiencing poverty, homelessness, drug abuse, and neglect. A number of the youth Chase interacts with on a regular basis has, at some point, resided in juvenile detention facilities. Workforce One evaluates each child individually and determines the exact needs to be addressed.

“If they are hungry, we will provide them with food,” Chase says. “If they are homeless, we try to provide them with a steady place to live.”

Workforce One takes children into its program and teaches them communication and life skills that help them understand, confront, and improve upon their conditions.

Chase grew up in Clermont County and attended Amelia High School. After graduation, she went to Miami University and received a degree in Public Administration. She also has a background in law enforcement, serving as a deputy in the Hamilton County (Ohio) corrections department for nine years. Growing up in a lower-middle class community, Chase says she witnessed firsthand the effects of being underprivileged as a child.

“Being from a lower-middle class environment, half the people I know went to jail and the other half were successful,” she says.

One particular occurrence that heavily influenced Chase to dedicate her life to helping troubled youth was the death of her childhood friend, Bobby.

She grew up with Bobby and noticed that he started to “head down a wrong path,” she says, filled with drinking and drugs. Bobby started to get his life in order, but could never fully recover. His life came to a tragic end when he was found dead under a bridge in downtown Cincinnati. The death of Bobby was the “kick start” of her career, she says.

“Bobby had so much potential and was a stand-up guy,” Chase says. “I truly believe that if someone was there to help Bobby, he probably wouldn’t have ended up the way he did. Sadly, no one was there to pull him away from his reckless lifestyle and put him on the right path.”

In talking with Chase, I noticed her genuine passion for the work to which she has dedicated her life. It was apparent, too, when she shared a success story of a former member of Workforce One. Patrick, from Cincinnati, Ohio, came to Workforce One for much-needed direction.

She explained that, at first, Patrick complained a lot and was not fully applying himself in the program. Thankfully, he finally decided to give the program a chance and he eventually became a successful businessman.

“He was a natural salesman,” Chase says. “All Patrick needed was a little direction and guidance in his life. I’m glad we were able to provide him with the help he needed.”

All of the hard work Jean Chase and her co-workers at Workforce One applied toward Patrick obviously paid off as they positively influenced the life of one more youth.

For more about Workforce One visit their web page at

http://www.workforceone
clermont.com/

Workforce OneWorkforce One in Clermont County, Ohio