RED BANK, NJ - Preparing a well-crafted resume and interviewing for a new job can be daunting to some.  Especially those learning English as a second language or entering the workforce after a hiatus or for the first time.  

There’s much competition in the job market and certain technological skills are required.  In response to clients’ employment needs, Lunch Break, the social service and food service agency in Red Bank, is focusing its efforts on helping job candidates find employment through the auspices of the newly created Life Skills Center on Route 35 in Shrewsbury (near The Grove West).  Click on the graphic to see the announcement.

The ribbon cutting and open house for the center takes place from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Nov. 29.  The Life Skills Center will become the new home for the employment coaching and job placement program.

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In preparation for the open house, staff members and volunteers from Lowe’s Home Improvement and Habitat for Humanity are among the team that has been tearing down drywall and tiles, installing sheetrock and painting at the Shrewsbury site, which was provided to Lunch Break in 2017 by JPMorgan Chase & Co. to use for its Life Skills Center.

"It is exhilarating to see our Life Skills Center taking shape. The ribbon cutting in November is a perfect culmination of our 35th anniversary year, as we also look forward to more growth for Lunch Break in the coming years," says Executive Director Gwendolyn Love.

The Life Skills Program, under the direction of Program Director Sharda Jetwani Love and Life Skills Coordinator Mary Ann LaSardo, collaborates with participants to help them gain the necessary employment skills to achieve economic self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.  The goal is to provide relevant and appropriate training to allow participants to find and maintain meaningful employment while improving future career prospects.

“It took the Lunch Break Life Skills Program to get me back to work. No, not as a client but to help pull it all together,” says Ms. LaSardo, “As a former regional vice president for Cablevision, it truly was never my intent to return to the work environment.  But, our Life Skills mission screamed to me and there was no turning back.”

It seems to be a mighty task, but Ms. LaSardo and her volunteer coaches are tackling the challenge.  Their intent is to equip participants with a wealth of knowledge through hands-on career mentoring; GED, ESL and Literacy education; job preparedness assessments; resume building and mock interview sessions; information technology training; transitional job placements and ongoing post-placement support groups.

Ms. LaSardo, who has begun assembling her coaching team, is recruiting from the corporate and business sector. She is especially in need of bilingual coaches. Life Skills coaches are responsible for assessing participants’ job readiness skills, establish goals and objectives; create collaborative action plans; and conduct weekly meetings to assess progress and commitment.

Some of the skills needed for coaching are the ability to motivate and build rapport with participants while demonstrating sensitivity to socio-cultural diversity; excellent communication and problem-solving skills, the confidence to make decisions and manage conflict.

Additionally, Life Skills will partner with local businesses to identify and fill job opportunities that benefit both the participant and the employer. Among the community partnerships are Brookdale Community College; Rutgers University - New Start Career Network; Monmouth County Workforce Development; Hackensack Meridian Health; Home Depot; Lowe’s Home Improvement; UPS; Sickles Market; Interfaith Neighbors; the Salvation Army; United Way; Project Ready - St. Joseph’s Social Service Center; and 180 Turning Lives Around.

Those who are interested in coaching or who would like to “Adopt a Student” and sponsor training costs for a participant, should contact Ms. LaSardo at mlarsardo@lunchbreak.org (732) 747-8577, Ext. 3109.

As a caring community, Lunch Break freely provides food, clothing, life skills and fellowship to those in need in Monmouth County and beyond. To donate or for more information: www/lunchbreak.org. Follow Lunch Break on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter #whywebreak 

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