DES MOINES, Iowa — The Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families hasn’t been open to the public since March. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the job resource center to transition completely virtually, making it hard to reach its clients, the majority of whom are without reliable or accessible technology.
“Really finding the best means as to where people are able and also understanding realistically there are some technology challenges and not everyone has the best internet connections to successfully navigate all the different things available to them. We are trying to take it one problem at a time in the midst of what we are currently facing,” says the center’s executive director, Marvin DeJear.
Daily, the center receives on average 30 to 40 calls for job assistance and resources. DeJear estimates roughly 80% of those who are calling are actively looking for work. DeJear says the pandemic has only highlighted the need for more work for Des Moines’ marginalized community.
“What we know is the communities we are serving were already disproportionately affected before the pandemic,” DeJear says. “Keeping with and understanding of what we already knew going into the pandemic, we knew the communities we serve would be disproportionately impacted during this time.”
The center’s career coach, Terrence Cheeks, says he’s been able to help Iowans but it’s been a challenge.
“We have placed quite a few people with jobs during this time and that’s a good thing. It’s just the one-on-one, the actual putting a face with the name that we have to overcome. The connectivity has been the biggest roadblock and we have to think of the ways to overcome it.”
On Wednesday the center will host a socially-distanced career fair, the first event hosted since the pandemic began. The event will feature around 25 employers. Job seekers are encouraged to bring a resume. The fair will be held at the Grubb YMCA from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The Evelyn K. Davis Center says it’s in the process of altering current programming to better fit the need of clients during the pandemic.