Rumford church looks to improve local economy with CHANGE

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The Parish of the Holy Savior in Rumford has introduced a program to identify job skills needed in the area and develop training to foster those skills locally. From left at a meeting of the River Valley Rotary Club: Bill Wood of the Catholic Charities of Maine, program community advocate Peter Cox and Fr. Nathan March, pastor of the Parish of the Holy Savior.

The Parish of the Holy Savior in Rumford has introduced a program to identify job skills needed in the area and develop training to foster those skills locally.

RUMFORD — Businesses in the region continue to struggle to find skilled workers to fill hundreds of jobs.

In response, a local church is introducing a partnership in the Western Foothills, partnering with members of local government and civic groups.

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At a meeting last Monday of the River Valley Rotary Club, Fr. Nathan March, pastor of Parish of the Holy Savior, said the partnership can have a role in helping the area grow economically.

With start-up funding from Catholic Charities of Maine, the parish has started CHANGE — Catholics Helping Aid New Growth in the Economy.

“We’re just in the beginning process of just trying to dialog,” March said. “I don’t have any answers. I don’t think any of us do.

“Right now, what we’re doing is listening. We’re meeting with different groups, different people, to see what’s going on. In the back of our minds, we’re asking ourselves, ‘How might we, as a parish community, as a church, be part of this broader movement?'”

Bill Wood of the Catholic Charities of Maine, who wrote the $5,000 grant, said there is further funding available for CHANGE if the effort can be moved forward by securing additional business and association partnerships.

Community Advocate Peter Cox said that by partnering with Rumford Economic Development, the Region 9 Adult Learning Center and Employment and Training Services, CHANGE is building toward identifying skills needed in the area and developing training programs to help workers develop those skills.

“We’re asking for and inventorying the needs — skills needed for future work force — and the type of training required for entry-level positions,” Cox said. “Training that could be done locally through Region 9 Adult Education.” 

Cox said Region 9 Adult Learning is taking a skills inventory to build a syllabus of training that can be used by all businesses in the area.

“We’ve gone to Sunday River Ski Resort, who’ve asked for some help to find some 400 people,” Cox said. “One of the big issues we have is transportation to the different facilities.”

Cox said Irving Forest Products in Dixfield and Catalyst Paper in Rumford have also information “sheets” showing what skills they require of workers.

He also said Oxford Casino is looking for cleaning people, and is willing to supply a van for transportation.

Cox said CHANGE is looking to partner with the Rumford Community Home, Pinnacle Health & Rehabilitation, Hope Association and Central Maine Healthcare.

He said the focus at the start is on larger businesses and then working to include smaller businesses to “see what they need and what we can do to help.”

“What we’re trying to do is take those sheets on what the interests are, combining them and trying to make common interests, so we have a program to cover what they’re looking for,” Cox said.

For more information about CHANGE, contact Peter Cox at pfaithcox@aol.com or call 418-1627.

bfarrin@sunmediagroup.net

Classes to help people become more employable

Classes to help people become more employable

by Bruce Farrin, Rumford Falls Times

MEXICO — This spring, Region 9 Adult Education will offer free classes to provide training to help individuals become more employable, according to Director Nancy Allen.

Working with CHANGE (Catholics Helping Aid New Growth in the Economy), Allen said Friday that the classes they are likely to offer training in customer service, computer skills and general job skills.

“A person could take one, two or three of these courses to make them better prepared for work,” Allen said. “Individuals could self-select the classes or employers could suggest candidates participate to increase their likelihood of getting a job.”

Allen said the focus is on getting as many people as possible to take the classes, to be offered at 377 River Road. Those interested should call Allen, the adult education director, at 364-2012, or email her at nancyallen@region9school.org.

At this time, no fees will be charged. Allen said the cost for the classes and the instructors will be paid by a grant from Catholic Charities of Maine.

“We have met with local employers and developed a list of skills that would help people obtain and maintain employment,” Allen said. “Some of the skills include completing an application online, getting to work on time, having a positive attitude, and calling in when going to be absent.”

Allen, who has been the adult education director since 2005, said: “There’s an issue all over the state, and actually all over the country, in that we don’t have enough skilled people to fill positions. But there are people who are here who would like to work. We’re trying to at least bridge some of that gap.”

The classes are a starting point,: she said, and more classes could be offered in the future. The classes are expected to last between two and eight weeks.

“I’m really excited to be working with this and to see where it goes,” Allen said.

bfarrin@sunmediagroup.net

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