On Wednesday, dozens gathered at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce to launch the Waco Employer Resource Network (WERN), which aims to help employees access the support they need to retain employment.
Prosper Waco has partnered with Heart of Texas Goodwill Industries and Caritas of Waco to create a project that supports employees who are working and to reduce turnover for employers.
"This has been a project that really has been rolling since August 2017. Before that, about two years were spent building the collaboration between social service agencies, job placement agencies, and employers in Waco," said Matthew Polk, executive director of Prosper Waco.
Through WERN, employees can be connected to services like housing, utility assistance, and education.
"We found out that we're actually the first network in Texas, which is really exciting," said Tiffany Gallegos, grants and services director for Heart of Texas Goodwill Industries.
"It's been great to see that, if we have somebody that's struggling with transportation or childcare and they need help keeping their job, that we have someone we can go directly to, through the Success Coach, to help them keep their job," Gallegos said.
The Success Coach will then follow up with the employee to ensure they're connected with the necessary resources.
"The goal for our community is to be sure that we keep people working so they do not get into a situation where they lose their jobs. Maybe in a situation where they may be moving toward poverty, low income. The WERN effort is really a strong effort to move us forward in this direction," said Buddy Edwards, executive director of Caritas of Waco.
As of this month, the network has served more than 30 employees from multiple businesses, including 10 working for The City of Waco.
"As a human resource person, you like that whole part of a person and it's interesting to know that they're progressing, not only in their work life, but we can help them with their home life too," said Natalie Edwards, HR supervisor for The City of Waco.
Prosper Waco launched WERN as a trial run with a few employers in August. It is now open to the entire community.
For more information, you can contact the WERN liaison, Katy Schulz, at 254-661-3408. You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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