Located in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood, East End Cooperative Ministry has worked hard to serve the community through housing programs, education and employment services, addiction solutions, and more since 1970.
Much of the organization’s growth in recent years is thanks to Reverend Kellie Wild, EECM’s IMPACTS Program Director. IMPACTS stands for Individuals Making Progress and Changes Towards Self-Sufficiency. In her position, Reverend Kellie helps Pittsburghers access a wide range of services to begin living a better life, much of which starts with education and employment opportunities.
Creating Employment and Education Opportunities
Reverend Kellie first started the EECM’s employment program to supplement the organization’s housing program.
“If you want people to become self-sufficient, you have to give them more than a bed,” she explains. “Education and employment are key for anybody to have any level of self-sufficiency and care for themselves. They help people move out of poverty.”
Increasing monthly income is critical to escaping poverty, but it’s also essential to avoid scenarios where members of our community must make disheartening choices.
“If you have enough income, you don’t have to choose between heat and food or heat and medication,” Reverend Kellie says. “Education and employment are how you reach that point for most people.”
To assist on the road to meaningful employment, EECM starts by removing potential barriers to employment.
“Many of the people we work with face some sort of barrier. Addiction, criminal records, mental health disorders that are either undiagnosed or untreated, transportation issues, and child care restrictions can prevent people from gaining meaningful employment. By working with each individual on a personal level, we can help them find employment that is sustainable. They can pay bills and have a place that is all their own.”
To remove those barriers, members of EECM hold one-on-one conversations to learn each individual’s skills, background, passion, and previous jobs. With that information, EECM can dig into its network of employer partners who can potentially take on new hires. Many of these employers are willing to assist workers who are recovering from addiction and other issues.
In addition to providing employment services, EECM is also quick to offer access to workplace training and education opportunities. After figuring out where an individual’s interests lie and which career paths seem most interesting, EECM conducts an assessment to determine whether or not the individual is already qualified.
“Many positions or apprenticeships have entrance requirements, so we’ll check for math and reading skills,” says Reverend Kellie. “If someone is on a fifth-grade math level and needs to get to a tenth-grade level to pursue a certain career path or apprenticeship, we can explore tutoring opportunities to help them reach their goals.”
For even more assistance, EECM connects members with additional resources like CareerLink and Vocational Rehabilitation to find new employment opportunities.
Developing Healthy Habits
Whether someone relies on EECM for housing, food, clothing, employment, or education, Reverend Kellie and her team aim to help people develop new habits that will allow them to achieve their goals.
“We use a step model to help people visualize both their goals and their progress,” Reverend Kellie says, “and we also work on establishing healthy habits.”
In the step model, EECM helps individuals determine what their ultimate goals are and all of the steps they’ll need to take to achieve those goals. From there, they have a discussion around what sort of habits are most useful. It could be as simple as providing an incentive for coming to each of their scheduled appointments at EECM or offering a reward to finish the first 30 days at a new job.
“What’s great about the step model is you build your habits and follow your path,” Reverend Kellie says. “You can look at the model and figure out where you are. It’s easy to monitor your progress and look back to see how far you’ve come.”
Creating Better Futures
East End Cooperative Ministry offers a wide range of services to nurture the entire individual. With their help, anyone who’s struggling in life, regardless of the reason, can find loving support and experienced guidance moving forward.
If you’d like to learn more about East End Cooperative Ministry or its volunteering opportunities, visit its website.
At Dugan & Associates, we’re inspired by the contributions EECM has made to our community. If you’d like to learn more about our community engagement or our legal work, contact us.