Operation Rio Grande: Phase 3 about more than giving people jobs

Operation Rio Grande: Phase 3 has kicked off in an effort to clean up the homeless area downtown. The focus of this phase is to give the homeless jobs, but Moe Egan from the Other Side Academy, says it's about more than that.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Speaker Greg Hughes announced the start of Phase Three of Operation Rio Grande and said that this phase is about focusing on individuals and the pride and self-esteem that comes for participating in work.

Egan says a centerpiece of Phase Three is the creation of individualized employment plans tailored to each participant based on their history, education, vocational background, personal goals, and an assessment of their readiness to work.

Four full-time employment counselors from the Department of Workforce Services have started meeting with homeless individuals from the Rio Grande area to start building plans.

A committee of private, nonprofit and government organizations is leading the "Dignity of Work" effort, chaired by Steve Starks, president of Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment. Starks says they need a friend who cares about them, and they need opportunities to learn, work and be challenged.

VIDEO Phase 3: Operation Rio Grande

The Dignity of Work plan anticipates three different groups of individuals. The "work ready" group includes individuals who are ready to work now. The pre-employment group includes those who are not ready to work yet because they first need to focus on sobriety, mental health or other issues. The third group falls in between, and will be encouraged to participate in "dignity activities" like workshops, daily devotionals and developing healthy routines.

"DREAM Teams" have also been introduced. These involve private employers providing short-term internship opportunities that give one-on-one mentorship and learning to prepare participants for paid employment. Businesses interested in participating can learn more at operationriogrande.utah.gov/dow.

Egan says officials have created a safer place for people to seek services, including mental health services and drug rehabilitation. But now the focus is on preparing people to become self-reliant.


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