Peak performers

EHOVE unveils welfare-to-work program.
Alissa Widman Neese
Dec 16, 2013
For years, Amanda Wahl had two rewarding occupations: being a mom and working in a factory.

But as local manufacturing jobs become scarcer, many individuals, such as Wahl, can’t find long-term employment to support their families. An increasing number of them simply lack the skills necessary to land new jobs.

“That was all I knew” Wahl said.

For some people, during tough times, seeking government assistance is the only option.    

EHOVE Career Center recently took over a program striving to help those individuals secure new, well-paying jobs faster.

EHOVE now manages PEAK Production Industries, a longtime welfare-to-work program funded through the Sandusky County Department of Job and Family Services.

Want to partner with PEAK?
Local businesses with projects in need of completion can contact PEAK Production Industries at 419-355-1750. Facility tours can be arranged.
On Thursday, Wahl carefully assembled wires used in factory anti-static mats at the Fremont facility.

Later this month, she’ll participate in educational workshops, honing skills such as interviewing and resumé writing.

“They’re very pro-employment,” said Wahl, who lives in Fremont. “They explain what we need to do so we have an opportunity to get a job, a good job”

Individuals receiving government assistance must participate in a “work activity” to maintain eligibility for their benefits, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website.

EHOVE Adult Career Center contracted with Sandusky County in October to manage the PEAK program. It provides those hours to county residents, while also emphasizing the need to attain skills necessary to re-enter the workforce.

The process:
• Businesses and companies partner with PEAK Production Industries to provide various projects, such as painting, sorting, shredding, wire assembly, pallet refurbishing and mat cutting.

• Individuals receiving government assistance, called “shop associates,” complete the tasks at the PEAK Production Industries building in Fremont, fulfilling their required work hours while also providing low-cost services to the businesses. Required hours vary for each person.

• At designated times, EHOVE Adult Career Center mentors shop associates by teaching them other skills, such as writing resumés, searching and applying for jobs, communicating effectively, sewing and keyboarding.

“Our goal is to prepare them for jobs, help businesses, prepare our local workforce and help move them off public assistance” said Phil Johnson, the program’s manager from EHOVE Adult Career Center.

About 40 to 60 people participated in the PEAK program each month this fall. It’s funded until June 30, with an option to continue an additional two years with the career-technical center.

In the past three months, 10 participants have already re-entered the workforce with EHOVE Adult Career Center’s assistance. Two others are attending college courses, while seven have signed up for services to help them attain their GED.

Adam Schaloff, of Bellevue, found a job just three weeks after starting the program.

“It helps push people along to learn skills for the real world,” Schaloff said.

Individuals participating in the program said EHOVE Adult Career Center has made a significant impact in a short time.

By encouraging them to have end goals, instead of just complete daily tasks, the revamped PEAK program promotes problemsolving, employability and selfworth in a positive way, shop associates Jessica Blankenship and Jessica Burr said.

“I’ve never heard them say there’s anything you can’t accomplish,” Burr said. “They interact with us and encourage us to learn. It’s all very positive”