Wilmington employment assistance program provides jobs, hope

"I am a valuable person of great worth."

Over and over Shantel Irvin, a participant in Phoenix Hometown Hires, says that sentence was drilled into her head.

"That's actually a phrase that I stick by," she says.

It's a phrase everyone involved in Phoenix Hometown Hires sticks by.

"Makes me feel like I have something to contribute, like I'm a valued member of society," says Daniel Muldrow, a Phoenix staff member.

With the start of 2016, Phoenix there thousands of New Hanover County residents without a job. Already this year, Phoenix Hometown Hires has helped nine people land jobs in our area and for 2015 it placed 104 jobs. The initiative is an integration of Phoenix Employment Ministry, an incorporated non-profit, and Hometown Hires, a program of United Way of the Cape Fear Area. In September, 2015 Phoenix Hometown Hires was formed.

Phoenix Hometown Hires Employment Manager, Ally Thornton, says this week marked the largest number of applicants to date. Thursday, WECT News dropped into the Employment Training Workshop, a week long program which teaches skills needed to find and sustain employment.

But employment and skills, Irvin says, aren't the only thing Phoenix provides.

"I actually can touch somebody's life and help them better themselves," she says.

It's a confident Irvin brings to her new job. She works at The Grove, the employee cafeteria at Live Oak Bank.

"It just brings joy to see her," Muldrow says. "What she's done and how far she's come."

Though Irvin has come far, so many others have a long way to go.

"We do need to find these people jobs," Irvin says.

"All we're doing is just giving that little push and saying you can do it," Muldrow says. "You are a valuable person of great worth."

Phoenix hopes to land 130 jobs in 2016.