Quail Hollow Country Club will open its doors Thursday to welcome Jacob's Ladder Job Center's new Heart of Champions Legacy campaign.
The event will honor 10-year board veteran Robert Brinkley, 55, and his wife, Amy Woods Brinkley, 55, for their dedication and financial support of the organization. Robert Brinkley is a retired attorney and Amy Brinkley is the former Global Risk Executive at Bank of America.
During the event, the Brinkleys may announce a significant gift to Jacob's Ladder, which would increase the agency's financial stability and allow for an increase of services. The overall goal of the Heart of Champions Legacy campaign is to raise $1 million dollars over the next three years.
The mission of the Jacob's Ladder Job Center is to help unemployed and under-employed people find and keep a living-wage job.
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Steffi Travis, executive director of Jacob's Ladder, said, "Robert is our longest-reigning board member and his leadership and vision have been extraordinary. He was the driving force to encourage JLJC to expand its visibility in the community and partner with other agencies to create new revenue streams," allowing the center to open new facilities and increase programming.
In Charlotte, the population most often served by the nonprofit is African-Americans living in generational poverty, "where often there are no role models of working parents and a legacy of welfare," said Travis.
"I got involved with Jacob's Ladder through my church 10 years ago ... and became more and more passionate about the mission," said Robert Brinkley. "What's kept me so involved is that I think (Jacob's Ladder) has the potential to break the cycle of generational poverty. Having self-sufficiency with a job is vital to break through the cycle of poverty.
"Another thing that grabbed me is the execution of their mission. It's a hand-up and not a hand-out. It's teaching (men and women) to fish rather than handing them food."
At Jacob's Ladder Job Center, clients sign a contract demonstrating their desire to participate in the four-week program to learn basic job-readiness skills.
Specifically, they learn how to develop a resume, complete an electronic job application in a new computer center and practice interview skills.
In addition to drilling clients on good employee habits, such as arriving on time, the agency also will identify solutions for barriers to employment, such as appropriate attire, transportation, education, child care, hunger, housing and more.
In 2010, 430 clients graduated from the program, and 258 are employed in industries including warehouse, health care, retail, food service, customer service and housekeeping.
Since its inception 12 years ago, Jacob's Ladder has served 5,060 people, with 3,728 graduates and a 57 percent hiring rate.
Brinkley said he has seen Jacob's Ladder grow during his 10-year association.
"Physically, we've grown and recently opened JLJC-West to serve people in other geographic locations," he said. "We've also grown in our ability to be part of the community and raise the profile of workforce development as an issue. We want our clients to be a bigger part of the conversation, as sometimes they slip through the cracks of other organizations. Jacob's Ladder will serve anyone of any education level.
"Jacob's Ladder can have much more of an impact in Charlotte than it does now," said Robert Brinkley. "Helping 200 a year is wonderful, but it is a drop in the bucket for what needs to be done. "This event is to thank as many people as we could for supporting us and for sharing our passion. We will also ask for them to continue to support JLJC even as my tenure on the board comes to an end."
The event at Quail Hollow Country Club, where the Brinkleys are members, will launch a new fundraising campaign.
Travis explained the goal is to generate multi-year contribution commitments so that Jacob's Ladder can better predict its resources and become more sustainable, which mirrors the nonprofit's goals for its clients.
Travis also said Jacob's Ladder welcomes donations. For example, a $15 donation will provide a one-week bus pass for a job-seeker, and 100 percent of all donations directly benefit people in Charlotte.
The organization also welcomes volunteers to assist with resume development and interview coaching and is seeking job leads to pass on to clients.