By Lee Edwards
Austin resident Edie Jacobs, a retired probation officer, has spent her time and energy over the last two years toward successfully finding new employment opportunities, along with reliable transportation, for Austin residents.
The inspiration behind Jacob's philanthropy was born of frustration over her son's inability to find local employment after returning home from six years of detainment. She said because he found it so difficult to secure stable employment in Chicago she would travel with him to temp agencies in the nearby suburbs to find something suitable, but still to no avail.
Fortunately, after moving out of Chicago, he was able to find a suitable opportunity. Jacobs said she now wants to "look out for our people".
"Jobs weren't open then like they are now so now there's no excuse that you have an X on your back," said Jacobs. "There are jobs that will hire you."
Individuals interested in contacting Jacobs for work reach her by phone or visit her at an office provided by the Westside Health Authority, located at 5422 W. Division, to discuss what opportunities are available.
Currently, she has partnerships with Greencore Group's office in Romeoville and the Handi-Foil Corporation center in Wheeling, where she sends vans full of workers Monday through Friday.
Riders headed toward Romeoville meet at the pick-up location at the corner of S. Cicero Ave. & Jackson Blvd at 1 p.m. to ensure riders are able to arrive to work on time for their 2 p.m. shift.
Jacobs was able to secure her working partnership because of her ability to capitalize on her networking opportunities. She explained that the working relationship with Handi-Foil was initiated through networking with someone at her church, First Baptist Institutional Church, 4220 W. 18th St., who had previously worked there.
The partnership with Greencore Group was formed through a chance meeting with a job coach in Englewood, who she said connected her to the HR department at Greencore Group; and the drivers and vans responsible for taking the workers to and from their destinations was facilitated through the Westside Health Authority's "Every Block A Village" initiative.
Often working by herself, Jacobs said that she does not typically receive any financial support or payment for her efforts. She said a new van would be a big help. Ultimately, she said, she wants to connect more people with more jobs within Chicago.
"I feel good to know that I can do this, I can help somebody," said Jacobs. "I have people call me all day, every day, or come to me all day, but if I could help just one I have helped somebody and I feel good about it."
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