The celebration of Westside Works’ fourth anniversary took place on July 20th. The anniversary coincided with the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Westside Works Building B. Community members, staff, and partner organizations joined together to make the day a success. Jeff Harris of the YMCA was the emcee for the ceremony and introduced Integrity CEO Reverend Beckham to start off the celebration. Reverend Beckham gave some opening remarks regarding the success and partnership of Integrity and Westside Works saying, “We went from a little small area in the kitchen of New Jerusalem Baptist Church and here we are today on what I would call a campus.” He then acknowledged each of the partner organizations and their contributions.
There were several other speakers in addition to Reverend Beckham, including Atlanta City Councilmember Ivory Lee Young Jr., Frank Fernandez from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Vine City resident Linda Adams, and English Avenue resident Rosario Hernandez. Each speaker highlighted the importance of Westside Works and the impact it continues to have on the community. Immediately following the speeches was the ribbon cutting ceremony for Westside Works Building B. The new building will house Integrity Transformations’ staff, program orientation sessions, case management and registration services.
Westside Works is a consortium of training partners that help equip Westside residents with hard and soft skills in order to become gainfully employed and begin a fruitful career. Four years ago the Arthur Blank Family Foundation built upon the
19 year recruitment and job placement success of Integrity Transformations Community Development Corporation and created Westside Works, a long-term neighborhood program focused on creating employment opportunities and job training for residents of the Westside community, including Vine City, English Avenue, Castleberry Hill and other contiguous neighborhoods. The goals of the organization are to create building blocks for job success, to remain resident focused, and
provide additional opportunities. The Arthur Blank Family Foundation is the primary sponsor of Westside Works.
Integrity Transformations Community Development Corporation is the managing partner of Westside Works and provides client recruitment, case management and intake services, and training program referrals. The Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) sponsors a construction ready program; approximately 160 of CEFGA program graduates helped to build the Mercedes Benz stadium. The Center for Working Families, Inc. (TCWFI) provides a Certified Nursing Assistant program and STRIVE job readiness for local residents, Per Scholas sponsors an information technology program, the YMCA of Metro Atlanta’s program trains and hires residents to become child development associates, and Levy Restaurants sponsors a culinary program.
The challenges of many residents who live in 30314 and 30318 include the lack of living-wage employment opportunities, lack of opportunities and services for returning citizens (ex-offenders), low education levels, lack of affordable home
ownership, and lack of skilled workers. Westside Works addresses these issues by offering training and employment opportunities that are responsive to needs of the community. In addition, we provide a batter of assessments to assist us with determining needs and direct placement, offer remediation classes via a literacy program, case management support and wraparound services, programs that are ex-offender friendly, an employment pipeline to high demand industries, and offer home ownership readiness services via partnership.
In conjunction with Westside Works, Integrity has registered over 7,000 residents and trained over 850 residents for a total of $17 million in wages earned. The 4th anniversary showcased one such resident, Thomas Ford, who went through the NET/BRIDGE program. After completing the soft skills program he decided to enroll in the culinary program through Levy Restaurants. Upon completing the program he became kitchen manager of the new Chick-fil-A on Martin Luther King Jr.
Boulevard. But that’s not all Thomas has accomplished. He now has his own catering business and provided food for those who attended the celebration. Residents like Thomas prove that Integrity is committed to our vision of transforming the Westside one resident at a time.