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Latino Community Association revives position to assist with job searches

(Update: Adding comments from LCA workforce navigator, executive director)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Latino Community Association has brought back a position it had in 2015-16 to help people with limited English proficiency find better-paying jobs to support their families.

With the help of a $150,000 grant from the Northwest Area Foundation, which spans over two years, LCA has brought back a workforce navigator position to help connect at least 250 people with English classes, computer literacy, job searching and interviewing skills.

Carolina Afre is returning to fill the position, having worked as the workforce navigator previously in 2015.

Over the 16 years Afre has been with LCA, she has held different roles, including being its first volunteer coordinator and, most recently, as the healthy outreach specialist.

Afre said workforce navigator is one of the roles she enjoyed the most.

“I love to see the results,” she said. “It’s about building their confidence, because once they see all of their experience on a piece of paper and read it, they say, ‘Is this me? Is this really me?’”

NewsChannel 21 also spoke Thursday with Brad Porterfield, executive director of the LCA to learn what changes will come with the new position.

“We hope to be back where we can meet with folks again, and have small peer groups of people looking for work or to change professions,” Porterfield said. 

He said they don't know if they will be able to host the groups virtually, but they are also hoping to train clients on video conferencing, like Zoom and Skype.

“It’s about one-on-one time, and exploring what each client wants to achieve, as far as employment goes,” Porterfield said.

LCA primarily serves people who come from immigrant Latino families, many with limited English proficiency and who have to work low-wage jobs to simply survive in an area with high rent and home prices. 

Of the more than 4,000 clients LCA served last year, 91% earned less than $30,000 annually, far less than the Bend median household income of more than $60,000. Only 17% used email.

Afre said she is excited to expand on her new role to change those statistics for the better.

Read the full news release below:

The Latino Community Association has hired a Workforce Navigator to coach Latinos in Central Oregon to improve their skills so they can gain better-paying jobs.

A $150,000 grant from the Northwest Area Foundation will enable LCA to help clients who desire a career change to set goals and define clear steps for advancement. 

Over the two-year span of the grant, LCA aims to equip up to 250 individuals with English classes, computer literacy, and job search and interviewing skills that will help them increase their incomes and achieve their goals.

LCA primarily serves immigrant Latino family members, many with limited English proficiency, who work low-wage jobs to simply survive in an area with high rents and home prices. Of the 4,532 clients LCA served last year, 91% earned less than $30,000 annually and 72% earned less than $20,000, far below the median family income in our region. Only 17% used email.

“We want to encourage our clients to dream big and help them develop a plan to achieve those dreams. We want to be catalysts in their journey to improved self-confidence and self-determination,” LCA wrote in its grant application. “It is critical that our immigrant families are aware of and gain access to the many opportunities of the expanding knowledge economy.”

The Northwest Area Foundation aims to reduce poverty and build prosperity across the northern states from Washington and Oregon to Minnesota and Iowa. It funds Native-run and grassroots organizations that serve communities of color and rural areas. Its founder, Minnesota businessman and philanthropist Louis W. Hill, was the son of Great Northern Railway founder James J. Hill. The foundation serves the region that spans the railroad’s freight routes.

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Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.


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