The Origins of Placement Announcements
To honor 30 years of Cara’s work to eradicate poverty, we are sharing the stories behind the rituals, milestones, and celebrations that have helped build the spirit of our community. In this story, Cara staff and volunteers share the origins and impact of our internal Placement Announcements.
We See You
Placement Announcements serve as internal notifications for each Cara participant who begins a long-term or permanent job placement. Each announcement is written by someone who worked directly with a participant on their journey. Once written, Placement Announcements are shared amongst staff, volunteers, and active participants via email.
While today’s Placement Announcements are quite personalized in nature, this was not always the case.
Joe Mutuc, Chief Business Development Officer: “I have been at Cara nearly 15 years, and Placement Announcements began even before I started. At first, they were tight and formulaic. We listed a participant’s name, their employer, and their starting salary. Over time, those writing the announcements made them more personalized. This was done to reflect the personalities and journeys of each participant featured.”
“Today, the focus of Placement Announcements is on individual stories. Each life is special and important. We see you; we see each participant and recognize them.”
“Kenon had a big smile on his face when he talked about his flexibility to explore a variety of different opportunities, including food service where he previously worked. Kenon and I soon jumped on the Lettuce/Shaws application however there was some confusion from the employer about next steps but that didn’t phase Kenon at all. He rolled with it and kept me updated each step of the way. When we did interview prep together, I could hear the excitement and confidence in his voice!”Kenon J. Placement Announcement, by Kelly DeBouver, Senior Corporate Account Manager
Representing the Next Step
Many Placement Announcements highlight a participant’s first permanent or long-term opportunity. Others lift up advancement placements, instances when Cara participants and alumni grow in their careers with the support of our staff.
Rita Balzotti, Manager of Career Advancement & Alumni Engagement: “Advancement placements represent the next step for participants. Sometimes they are a bump up, and sometimes they are a real career move. Some kinds of advancement are documented, and others are not written down but still advance our mission of real and lasting success. All advancement placements must include a salary or position increase, and participants must keep their initial placement for 12 months.”
“Team Andrew (Kim, Aaron, Kathie, Kelly, Pat and Liz) found his skill set a good match for several opportunities with our partners. In the end, he went with The Bazaar, Inc. as a shift lead. (That Mariano’s experience paid off.) This opportunity gives Andrew a good, solid basis from which to go after a new career. It also gives him a schedule that allows him to spend time with his son. Gotta love that!”Andrew T. Advancement Placement Announcement, by Rita Balzotti, Manager of Career Advancement & Alumni
A Source of Inspiration
Placement Announcement notifications are often daily highlights for both staff and volunteers and provide inspiration to current participants working through their own personal and professional journeys.
Joe: “Sharing Placement Announcements across the staff lets each staff person know that regardless of where they sit, they are an impactful part of a participant’s journey to gainful employment. Our mission unites; it draws people to the organization and is the guiding light behind our work, whether a staff member is participant facing or works in the back office.”
Julie Chiu, Quality and Standards Manager: “As a member of a back office team, Placement Announcements are so informative and help me stay connected to our participants’ journeys. The stories that accompany the announcements remind me of all the other successes participants may have had along the way, from creating a resume for the first time to overcoming substantial hurdles to employment.”
Judy Cole, longtime Cara volunteer: “Knowing that someone I’ve worked with has been hired lets me know that the program is working. It’s very rewarding and makes me so happy for the individual. It’s great to know that this participant is on a path to greater success.”
“When I met with Alaa about her new job, she expressed an excitement to use this opportunity for continued learning and growth and to propel herself forward in a career dedicated to special education.”Alaa S. Placement Announcement, by Sasha Ongtengco, Former Director of Cara Connects
Nearly 2 years later, Alaa is well into her journey, continuing her work in the Evanston/Skokie School District and advancing her career through a Master’s program at University of Illinois Chicago. Her story, like each Placement Announcement we read, connects us to the important work of bringing hope, jobs, and opportunity to all who seek Cara Collective’s services.
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