Rockford Rescue Mission expands program to help homeless obtain jobs

ROCKFORD — Rockford Rescue Mission leaders and partners are hoping a newly expanded program will help break the cycle of joblessness and homelessness in the Rockford region.

The Works! Center isn’t a new building or a new program, but an expansion of the agency’s existing Life Recovery Program for men and women. Instead of being confined to individuals seeking assistance from Rockford Rescue Mission, the skills-development program now is open to men and women who are referred there by partners such as Carpenter’s Place, Rockford Housing Authority and Rockford Reachout Jail Ministry.

“This is broad, community-based now,” said Sherry Pitney, executive director of Rockford Rescue Mission.

The program provides life and job skills, Pitney said today but that won’t help those mired in homelessness obtain jobs if employers aren’t willing to give these individuals a chance.

“If you can’t get a job, now you’re stuck. You’re in a place where cycles just seem to continue, and if you’re not careful you can end up back here at the mission because you don’t see that there’s anywhere to go but your surroundings and what you’ve known for your life up to that point,” said Andrew Hall, manager of corporate training and development for Bergstrom Inc. and a volunteer with Rockford Rescue Mission.