Near Southside Employment Coalition Executive Director Ohala Ward (standing) works with Charlene Hester to find employment for one of its clients. Hester temporarily worked at Near Southside before finding employment at Scholar's Academy through ARCHS' Welfare to Work Partnership.It had only been three months since Charlene Hester left her residence at a local transitional housing complex to start temporary employment at Near Southside Employment Coalition.

Hester was referred to ARCHS' Welfare to Work Partnership for assistance in finding employment after remaining jobless for nearly two years. ARCHS in turn found her a position at Near Southside as an Employment Specialist Trainee.

"Charlene is an excellent worker. She is very diligent, caring, professional, and takes a lot of initiative," said Ohala Ward, Executive Director of Near Southside. "

However, Near Southside was only able to offer Hester temporary employment, as the organization was unable to hire any new employees. Yet because of the skills she received at Near Southside, she was able to find permanent employment at Scholar's Academy as an Office Administrator.

"Words can't even describe how I feel. It's the ultimate buzz," Hester said. "I have a car now, I'm already in the process of moving forward housing-wise, and I'm paying off debts."

ARCHS’ Welfare to Work Partnership was originally awarded funding in 2007 from the Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) to support Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) participants who have been sanctioned for not adhering to benefit requirements.

The grant has funded ARCHS’ Welfare to Work Partnership. ARCHS uses a transitional jobs model to help St. Louis city and county TANF participants remove the barriers that lead to them being sanctioned by the state. ARCHS’ case management focuses on job/life skills training, housing and transportation assistance, child care referrals, health care access and financial literacy.

Hester said it is difficult to find permanent employment for people in her position, but it can be done with hard work.

"ARCHS - I call them my foundation to my career path. They are my foundation and my new career is the house I'm building on it," Hester said. ARCHS and Near Southside helped me get the skills to move ahead. If you don't have the skills in this competitive market, then you get pushed aside."