A program that helps people diagnosed with mental illness find and keep jobs has received a grant from the Richland County Council.
Work in Progress will use the $14,588 for job coaching.
"We have tried to make it so that we have a constant contact with the person," Rosemary Heddon, Executive Director of Work in Progress said. "We form a relationship with the employer. We don't just say, 'Okay, you go find a job there.'"
"We do follow-up services for the duration of the job," Heddon said. "We can go back in on the job with a person. If the person gets new skills, needs new skills, and they need somebody to come in and do what we call uptraining."
Work in Progress tries to match people with jobs that interest them, knowing that someone working a job they don't like won't last very long.
"Whatever that person wants is what we want to assist that person with getting into," Heddon said.
"I have worked other jobsbut they've been things that I'd just done because I needed a job, not because it was something I really wanted to do," work candidate Sissy Weaver said.
"Work in Progress has been a Godsend for me," Weaver said. "Without a job, I feel like I'm sort of, not contributing, contributing to society."
Not only has Work in Progress helped Weaver find work, counselors have helped her stay employed.
"I was having problems with working with the computers and my job coach came on-site and helped me with the computer and helped me, so I had that support," she said. "You can go to your job coach and find a way to work through the problems. I'm able to get through those times when I'm having problems with my illness."
Heddon said in the 18-year history of Work in Progress, about 1,250 people have found jobs through the program.
"When I am working I feel like I'm a part of the community and it's not just a paycheck. I mean the paycheck is nice, but it's not just that," Weaver said. "It's the feeling of having a reason to get up in the morning or a place to be and friends to meet, people to socialize with."
Work in Progress accepts referrals for work candidates from mental health agencies throughout Richland and Lexington Counties. For more information, click here.