Life Navigation

Goodwill NNE has provided workforce services to more than a million people in our 90+ years as a nonprofit. We learned that for many people, getting and keeping a good job requires much more than a well-written resume. Barriers to successful employment can lower aspirations and interfere with success. Barriers include housing insecurity, mental illness, domestic violence, transportation, addiction, and more.

The solution we’ve found is the Job Connection Model. It’s a holistic, wrap-around approach to help participants work through any barriers to getting and keeping meaningful employment and achieving personal stability.

Life navigation is a key part of the Job Connection model.

What is Life Navigation?

The Job Connection Model uses a team approach. The team includes a Career Advisor and a Life Navigator (a counselor/social worker role). The career advisor focuses on skills assessment, career exploration and training. The Life Navigator focuses on each person’s barriers and solutions to overcome them. Together, the team helps clients remove barriers to successful employment so they can build a sustainable future.

This wraparound model addresses the root causes of our clients’ unsuccessful employment in the past and helps to move them into stability over time — often six months or longer.

Life navigators have helped workforce participants with:

  • Unsafe housing
  • Lack of reliable transportation
  • Unreliable childcare
  • Food insecurity
  • Mental health issues
  • Debt and budgeting
  • Anxiety in the workplace
  • How to have difficult conversations
  • More

Life affects work

We work with job seekers to identify what a good job would be for them, not only in terms of salary, but also in terms of personal satisfaction and pride. In some cases, we need to start by helping our clients identify any barriers that need to be removed before finding the “right” job is realistic.

Goodwill NNE uses tools such as the World of Work Inventory to help clients identify jobs that might be a good fit for their interests, and then we determine what they need to qualify for those jobs. With funding from public sector workforce programs, we have resources to pay for trainings, classes and professional certifications. We work closely with the community college system, and we also have strong relationships with dozens of employers. 

In some cases, we need to start the process of working with new clients by focusing on removing immediate barriers to successful employment, such as unsafe or no housing or a lack of reliable transportation. Most of the time, work moves forward on the personal and employment fronts simultaneously. 

Depending on urgency, we may also help clients find an initial “survival job,” which provides an income that may be combined with public benefits to be the bridge that leads to a sustainable career path. No two journeys are alike.

The Job Connection model in action: One participant’s story

Here is the experience of a recent participant to understand one person’s journey:

Our Bangor, Maine-based team began to work with a participant who was a self-referral after reading about our program for single parents receiving support from SNAP E&T on a local job board. The participant knew they wanted a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to begin working as a short haul driver in the Bangor area. The family was having major financial problems, struggling to have enough food to eat, and the participant felt depressed and like a failure. The participant believed if the CDL was achieved, they could earn a livable wage for their family. Working with our team, they began to feel hope about making dreams happen and come out from the difficulties the family was experiencing.

The Life Navigator worked with the participant to provide food pantry options, found a personal counselor, helped create a budget, and got a scholarship for their child to attend summer camp. The Life Navigator helped develop a list of the goals for the participant to move forward successfully.

The Career Advisor helped with getting the financing to get CDL training, a Department of Transportation physical, taking the test once the course was completed and updating the resume. The Career Advisor also helped line up a driving job so the participant was able to start working immediately after completing training, with a livable wage of $25 an hour. The participant also needed clothing to start the new job, and SNAP E&T funds were able to pay for work clothing and steel-toed boots – which the participant did not have the money to pay for when starting the new job.  

This participant is now successfully working with a company that is a good fit, receives the salary that the family needs and has full benefits through work. The participant reports feeling a sense of achievement and now feels secure and proud for the first time in a long time.

Goodwill can help your employees with Life Navigation

The Job Connection Model has been so successful, Goodwill NNE started offering Life Navigation to our own employees. These employees tend to succeed in work, and stay in their job longer than their peers.

We want to spread this success. Goodwill NNE is working with businesses in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to offer Life Navigation. We want your business — and your employees — to succeed. If your employees may need help with tough life issues, such as housing, transportation, and more, contact us.

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