Coaching The Community

Joalexis Martir, Community Helping Hands workforce development coordinator, is pictured outside of their office on Water Street in Jamestown. Submitted photo

Editor’s Note: The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation is commemorating its 40th anniversary this year. Throughout the year, the foundation is highlighting 40 stories that are indicative of the impact foundation-funded programs and initiatives have had on the community.

Every gift creates a story. This story was inspired by gifts to The Fund for the Region.

Workforce Development Coordinator, Joalexis Martir is invested in the success of each work experience participant at Community Helping Hands.

As one of the largest sites local agencies refer clients to for work experience, Community Helping Hands has a long history of helping individuals build job training and workforce readiness skills. Committed to enhancing their ministry, the organization launched a relationship-based workforce development pilot program last year, aimed at helping individuals achieve employment success.

“Everyone has a story, we have to remember people are much more than a statistic or a number,” Martir said.

As coordinator of the program Martir’s task is to get to know each participant, learn their story and the circumstances that have brought them to the place they are today.

“People don’t come to use with a standard list of things they need help with,” Martir explained. “Each person is unique; we need to get to know them and get to the root cause that is keeping them from maintaining self-sufficiency.”

Community Helping Hands set out to enhance their existing workforce development efforts after observing individuals they work with can often find employment but may have difficulty maintaining it. The new program expands their capacity and focuses on the individual, through one on one coaching, new programming to increase self-awareness and life skills, and strengthened collaborations with other agencies located within The Gateway Center such as, Mental Health Association, BOCES and St. Susan Center.

Fairly new to his position, Martir already has a keen understanding of every department in the organization, from the receiving dock, sorting rooms, warehouse to the showroom and thrift shop depot, along with all of the volunteers and work experience participants needed in each area.

“We are a team. On a team every player has a part to play to contribute to the overall success of the team,” explained Martir. “My job is that of a coach, helping individuals during their time spent here but also in every aspect of their life.”

Martir is not only concerned with helping to schedule staffing for the various departments, his focus is on each participant and how to provide them with the best opportunities for personal development and growth while also connecting them to needed services and resources in the community.

“We have recently seen an increase in our Spanish-speaking participants. They may start in a department behind the scenes where we can help them navigate their job duties, the next step is to connect them with resources like ESL classes,” Martir said. “Individuals are encouraged to use these new skills during their work experience and are also challenged by being moved into different positions.”

At a time when workforce development and readiness in our region remains a concern across all sectors, Community Helping Hands offers a fresh approach by focusing on the individual and fostering a supportive environment where everyone feels like they are part of the team.

For 40 years, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation has worked together with its inspiring donors, selfless volunteers and grateful community organizations to share their stories for enriching the quality of life for all who live here.

A gift to the Foundation adds another chapter in our community’s unending story. Learn more at crcfonline.org.