Last year, when Renay Hopkins lost her job, it was a frustrating and laborious effort to find a new one.
While searching, she moved in with her grandmother to save some money. She recommended that Renay visit Austin Coming Together (ACT), a social service organization and United Way partner in her southwest neighborhood.
With little knowledge of what they could offer, Renay visited ACT’s Community Hub for assistance. To her delight, she immediately received a level of support no temp agency she’d previously visited had provided.
As the lead community partner in the Austin Neighborhood Network, ACT brings together more than 50 social service providers, schools, businesses and other local stakeholders to help residents access vital resources, like after-school programs, jobs, childcare and other services that address their varying needs.
To reach residents in need, ACT has an open office, or “Community Hub,” where residents can drop by to learn and utilize these services and programs, engage with their neighbors or attend an event. ACT also goes door-to-door and hosts pop-up resource tables throughout the community to tell residents about the many ways ACT and the Neighborhood Network partners can provide assistance.
In a neighborhood with an unemployment rate of nearly 20 percent, workforce development is a top priority for ACT and the Austin Neighborhood Network. By working together, ACT and its Network partners aim to connect thousands of residents to living-wage careers.
For Renay, an ACT coordinator provided one-on-one guidance to spruce up her resume and enroll her in a training program with Cara Chicago, a job training and coaching agency that places people in quality jobs.
In just a few days, Renay began a temporary role with the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCM). It didn’t take long for Renay to prove she’s an asset to the organization and, a few months later, she was hired permanently.
“Austin Coming Together makes a huge difference in peoples’ lives. If you go out looking for jobs and no one calls you back, you get discouraged. You start giving up,” she said. “With ACT’s help, it’s making it easier for people to get jobs and making the community better.”
Today, Renay works as a stock clerk at UCM, ensuring that supplies are available to medical staff. Not only does she love her job, she’s also been able to achieve two major goals she’s been working towards for years — moving into her own place and purchasing her own car.
“Without ACT’s help I wouldn’t be where I am now,” Renay said. “The relationship they’ve built with me and people in the community, it’s a special bond.”