Roxanne Kassner mothers four children as well as her 2-year-old grandson. Supporting them on her own is her driving force.
With no college education and little work experience, that goal seemed unreachable after her divorce six years ago. “When you’re out there on your own, you don’t realize there are people who can help. It was tough,” she says.
Public assistance and federal education grants enabled her to study at Spokane Community College. But, she says, “it seemed like someone with more experience was always getting hired before me.”
Then she found the Single Parent Outreach Connection (SPOC). Through their internship project, she learned resume-writing, job-search and interview skills. SPOC placed Kassner in a three-month, unpaid internship with Empire Health Services.
Now she’s a full-time employee at the Rockwood Clinic. Kassner knows her internship was invaluable.
“We try to remove whatever barriers we can to help people be successful,” says SPOC executive director Brusan Wells. From a one-room office at the Northeast Community Center, SPOC offers counseling and support, refers people to food service and housing organizations and provides some legal advocacy. Parents consult the staff at SPOC on topics ranging from how to go back to school, discipline children or find money to pay bills. “We’re in the trenches with the people,” Wells says.
Kassner is one of SPOC’s success stories. Wells celebrates the fact that her ability to find and keep a job represents a savings of $20,000 a year to the state welfare system.
To do all this, the small staff at SPOC knows how to pool their resources. They rely on work-study students from local colleges and universities. Individual donations account for 11 percent of revenue. SPOC receives money from the Department of Social and Health Services. But Wells says the possible loss of that funding could mean they will only operate through October. One way the community can support SPOC is by donating clothes and hygiene products.
If you’re a parent who might benefit from the Spokane Single Parent Outreach Connection, or to offer your support, call 483-4478.
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MEMO: Created in support of the Spokane County Health Improvement Partnership (HIP), Discoveries highlights people working to improve community health and well-being. If you have a discovery that deserves recognition, call Elana Jefferson at 459-5419. To get involved with HIP, call 482-2557.