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Catholic Charities Fort Worth Creates Jobs, Hosts National Poverty Summit

Hawa Hassan, Catholic Charities, Fort Worth Case Worker

By Bill Zeeble, KERA News

Fort Worth, TX – As unemployment rises in Texas, Catholic Charities of Fort Worth is creating living-wage jobs. KERA's Bill Zeeble reports that's one reason the national charity group held its first-ever Poverty Summit in downtown Fort Worth.

This job-killing economy has created all kinds of complications, from hunger to ruined relationships. So Catholic Charities of Fort Worth concluded one solution might be job training. But Heather Reynolds, Fort Worth Catholic Charities CEO, says not just any kind of training, because many of her clients already work. But the jobs pay little.

Reynolds: So our goal at Catholic Charities Fort Worth is to get them into jobs that pay them a living wage. How do we get them a job that pays a living wage? Get them skills they need to get a job, how do we develop a work force that is ready for what industries need and then match those two together.

For many of Catholic Charities Fort Worth clients, that means at least offering English classes. Hawa Hassan, a Somalian refugee, arrived here with her mother and seven siblings a dozen years ago. As the oldest child, she found day care work, but wanted more.

Hassan: I always had in a dream that one day I would work helping people. I knew the language was the most important thing if I want to see myself in a good pay position job. That's what I worked hard for, to improve my English.

After taking her classes, she passed her G.E.D. high school equivalency test, then qualified as a Catholic Charities case worker. Now she helps people like her, refugees, arriving here from her native Somalia and elsewhere, from Burma to Bhutan.

Hassan: So when I got my job, that was my dream job.

Heather Reynolds, with Fort Worth Catholic Charities, says local donors have been essential to her organization's efforts. But Catholic Charities has also launched several small businesses of its own that pay employees a living wage. Bill Zeeble KERA News.