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Center boosts career change

| November 16, 2010 8:00 PM

Thirty years ago my mother could have used this brand of help. Newly divorced after having married young, she'd spent too long as a stay-at-home mom with no work experience or degree. "Get a job" was easier said than done.

They're called "displaced homemakers" and 47 percent of the nearly 30,000 in Idaho live with their children in poverty. Single mothers don't fare much better (31 percent in poverty).

It's not just single parents who struggle in this job market. These days the workforce is more competitive and opportunities more scarce. Sustained unemployment invites depression and taxes public benefits; joblessness affects family and community.

Without desired skills, a realistic goal, and a clear path to achieve it one is handicapped.

That's where the Center for New Directions comes in. The CFND is on the North Idaho College campus, but it's free to the public as well as students. Last year they helped 542 north Idaho residents (45 percent male; 55 percent female) identify their "new direction," form a plan, and take initial steps. For some that means help with resume and basic skills; for others college or technical training.

They offer a wide range of free services to clients aged 18 to over 70:

* Career and job search assistance

* Education/training guidance

* Job search, resumes, and labor market information

* Personal counseling and problem-solving

* Financial aid applications

* Referrals to other agencies

CFND also holds short workshops on personal and motivational topics. They work closely with the Idaho Department of Labor, Workforce Investment Act and worker retraining programs, housing agencies, Vocational Rehabilitation, The Women's Center/Center for Prevention of Violence, and other referring sources such as physicians and churches.

You can learn more and get a bite at CFND's annual open house, the "Luscious Lemon Reception," Wednesday, Nov. 17 from 3 to 5 p.m. Like any nonprofit they rely on community donations; with more demand for services they could use help. For more information call (208) 769-3445.

Sholeh Patrick is an attorney and a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. E-mail