Leaders of Jacobs Ladder and the Urban League confirmed Tuesday that Jacobs Ladder will become a program within the Urban League.
Jacobs Ladder is a nonprofit that prepares people for job interviews and employment. Urban League is a nonprofit that promotes financial stability with a focus on African-American families.
The two organizations will plan the move for the next three months, and officials said they expect Jacobs Ladder to be part of the Urban League by January.
What our program offers today we want to make it better, said Charles Pfeiler, Jacobs Ladders board of directors treasurer. We believe by combining resources, we can serve people in better ways.
But while leaders tout the merger as a more efficient use of money and a way to provide more services, some volunteers at Jacobs Ladder are upset that the program wont be the same.
Well lose some identity and relationships with clients that will never be repaired, thats my concern, said Bob Caruso, a volunteer with Jacobs Ladder.
Jacobs Ladder hit a rough patch this summer when it had to make a public plea for money. Holly Cummings was named the new executive director, and she had to raise $200,000 in a matter of months to keep the nonprofit afloat.
Cummings had raised about $175,000 of the needed money, Pfeiler said. Staff members were taken by surprise in early August when they were informed of the merger with the Urban League, said David Boling, who worked for Jacobs Ladder but left at the end of August.
The staff were not guaranteed their jobs; they had to reapply, said Boling.
When Cummings was contacted for comment, she told the Observer that she was not at liberty to talk about any of that, unfortunately.
Volunteers fear style will change
On Tuesday, Jacobs Ladder volunteers held a small protest to oppose the proposed merger.
Jacobs Ladder, volunteers say, is a grassroots organization that stresses a very personal, involved style. Meeting with clients one-on-one is a necessity to success, they said. Some dont believe the personal mentoring of people about interviews, dress and resumes will be as effective once the organization is part of the Urban League.
Its like taking a mom-and-pop grocery and putting it in the middle of a Harris Teeter, said volunteer Marsha Stickler.
Pfeiler, however, said the personal process with clients wont change in the merger.
In regard to our volunteers, I feel badly that we have not had the opportunity to communicate to them what our plan is, Pfeiler told the Observer.
Patrick Graham, the president and chief executive officer of the Urban League, said the Urban Leagues financial literacy, life skills and job certification training programs will complement what Jacobs Ladder offers.
Combining all of those elements will give us a better, holistic program for our customers and create better employees for the community and better wage-earners for families, he said. I think (the volunteers) will see the benefit when they see a lot of our customers are the same.