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Name: Charles Hardwick
Position: Director of CSAC North and Manager of Employment Resource Center
Department: Adult Education & Employment Resource Center
Ten Year Anniversary in May 2013
1. Can you briefly describe a typical day at work for you?
There is no “typical” day at the Employment Resource Center (ERC). Every day we look forward to something new and exciting. At the ERC, Case Managers work one-on-one with clients to assess skills and determine job seekers’ interests. Case managers help coach our clients in their job searches and help identify potential barriers to clients’ employment. ERC services include case management; technology access; reentry services; bridge education strategies and connection to supportive services like childcare, transportation, and the HACC emergency food pantry.
Every morning, my staff and I line up in the ERC lobby to greet our customers as they sign in. After assuring all of my clients are being served and their needs are being met, I facilitate our Fresh Start Program, which is our job-readiness and soft-skills workshop for reentry clients. Aside from Fresh Start, I spend my day managing several ERC programs and their contracts. Specifically, I manage CDBG, WIA, IDOC, and supervise our computer classes. After that, I oversee the suitability of our WIA enrollees through assessments conducted by our Lead Case Manager. I will spend time working with HACC community partners and business partners interested in supporting our programs. Throughout the day I deal with conflict, celebration, and helping people navigate the process of their job search. I often find myself stepping outside my role as Manager and into the role of social worker—helping individuals to figure out what they’re going to do about various life challenges. Working with my staff is an easy task— everyone “gets it”.
2. Where are you from originally and what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I am originally from Tallulah, Louisiana. In my spare time, I enjoy trying new restaurants and traveling. Last year, I went to Jamaica and Florida. This year, I am going to Hawaii and Las Vegas to visit family.
3. Is there a particular client story that really touched you?
A gentleman had been recently released from prison and he was looking to start over. Before prison, this man had been a manager at a national corporation. Once he went to prison, he had lost his family, including his wife and his very young child, and his home. The man heard about our Fresh Start program from his parole officer and decided to give it a try. The day he walked through HACC’s doors he was signed up for our program. The man eventually spent four weeks in Fresh Start learning ways to reenter the workforce and developing techniques like personal/professional goal setting that helped him gain the confidence to get his life back on track. Working with ERC case managers, eventually the client felt confident enough to interview with one of our local ERC partners-employers. The client landed the job and was ecstatic to be working again. He has been working at the company for over a year now. During the past year, he has secured his own home close to his job and has gained joint custody of his child. The man keeps in touch with me and from time to time will stop in at the ERC to visit. Above all else, he tells me he is grateful to have received support and hope from his “HACC family.” It makes me feel good knowing that our program helped this man truly put his past behind him and gave him the tools to move forward and become whole again.
4. Howard Area Community Center’s values are Hope, Accountability, Compassion, Creativity, Respect and Participation. Which Value means the most to you and why?
Respect, Compassion, Participation, and Creativity, in that order.
Respect: Unfortunately many of our client are not used to getting respect from the outside world, so I take pride in making sure everyone who walks through our door is respected by HACC staff. In turn, I expect our clients to be respectful of one another.
Compassion: In order to help someone, I believe you truly have to have compassion. Compassion is the first step to getting a positive outcome.
Participation: I think Case Managers and Office Managers need to participate in the lives of our clients in order to serve them the best we can. We can accomplish this by first listening to our clients’ stories.
Creativity: In my ten years at HACC, I have learned that even the best syllabus at times needs to be modified. To truly help people, we sometimes need to get creative with our programming to address our clients’ unique challenges.
5. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part is when people walk through our doors and say, “I GOT THE JOB!”