Need a job?

Published 10:28 am Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Maria Gaytan stands in front of the doors at Riverland Community College in Albert Lea. She is the community facilitator for a new role to help the jobless. The United Way of Freeborn County acquired the grant that funds the position. -- Kari Langan

By Kari Langan, staff writer

A one-year position paid for by the United Way of Freeborn County is set to place jobless people into jobs and give them the tools to overcome barriers to employment.

Ann Austin, executive director of United Way of Freeborn County, said the funding comes through a $12,000 grant from AmericaCorps VISTA. Founded in 1965, VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America. Its aim is to fight joblessness.

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The grant resulted in the hire of Maria Gaytan, who started July 31. Her title is community facilitator, and she is located in the offices of the Minnesota Workforce Center at Riverland Community College.

“There are gaps in services in the community and obstacles for people, so Maria’s goal is to remove the obstacles for people to maintain and find work,” Austin said.

Gaytan said she plans to incorporate community resources and tools to reach clients’ goals of economic stability.

Austin noted some of the obstacles people seeking jobs face: child care, transportation, new language.

Gaytan is preparing a list of barriers from workers from interviews to develop a job placement program.

Gaytan has seen 20 people, and though she has not placed any clients yet, it’s because the program isn’t in full swing. In October, Gaytan will connect with employers to begin the growth of a job placement program.

“At times I wish I could do more for them to meet the needs of clients,” she said.

Gaytan moved to Albert Lea 18 years ago from the border town of Brownsville, Texas. She experiences barriers and didn’t have relatives locally to fall back on. English is her second language. She had help from a mentor, Albert Lea resident Linda Lares.

“She told me that I had already taken the hardest steps by moving away and looking for a better opportunity, and by taking that step, I had begun my journey to better my life and family,” said Gaytan.

For more information, contact Gaytan at 507-369-1483, or visit Riverland Community College, Room 111, 2200 Riverland Drive, Albert Lea 56007.