Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Give us this day our daily work

College graduates in 2010 are facing one of the worst employment scenarios in more than 50 years. The unemployment rate is high; people with years of experience are taking entry level jobs, displacing those exiting the universities.

Imagine how these factors compound when the job seeker has any additional challenges — English is a second language; time has been spent in the penal system; or disabilities affect access to transportation. For some, hope is at a premium; the ability to tackle barriers overwhelming. These individuals may need some help or encouragement.

Daily Work is a ministry originally developed a decade ago by four Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) congregations in the Twin Cities to address the barriers that restrict vulnerable job seekers, according to Steve Grove, executive director. “From its inception [Daily Work] was to help people from the congregations who were struggling; the congregations provided funding because they had a self-interest regarding their members.”

Daily Work executive director Steve Grove meets with a client interested in finding meaningful employment. Photo provided by Daily Work

The four founding churches were Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Saint Anthony Park Lutheran Church, and Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, all in Saint Paul; and Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

More than 220 people have found work through Daily Work since 2006, with 67 job placements in 2009.

When asked how to improve the program, members of these congregations said that barriers needed to be addressed for people experiencing difficulties, according to Grove. They could identify the barriers — education, transportation, language, and training. With that, the staff of Daily Work was free to “build a network of support services for people who were incarcerated, experienced addiction, spoke primarily a different language, had been or were homeless, or had never learned financial literacy,” Grove added.

“My passion is to break down barriers,” Grove explained. “We participate somewhat with [community organizing efforts like] ISAIAH, but other organizations do the systemic change advocacy, while we change the day-to-day reality for people when we can.”

Daily Work does make a difference. More than 220 people have found work through the group since 2006, with 67 job placements in 2009. Women make up about 40 percent of the clientele, and foreign-born persons about 64 percent. The average hourly wage of their placements is $11.

Daily Work accomplishes this on a limited budget. “The total organizational cost — salaries and overhead — amounts to about $1,000 per placement,” said Grove.

For more information, to provide financial support, or to suggest job placements, call Steve Grove at 651/204-3043.

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