by Marianne Salza
Out of Lynn’s population of more than 92,000 people, 20 percent of residents live at or below the poverty level, and 47 percent speak a language other than English. Local agencies, City leaders, and volunteers gathered for the Learn More, Earn More campaign kickoff on January 15 at Lynn City Hall to connect members of the community with free resources.
“The way to get people out of poverty is to get good jobs with sustainable wages. That’s what this program does,” said Brigitta Damon, CEO of Lynn Economic Opportunity (LEO). “For many people, the key is learning English for employment.”
Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) has partnered with LEO and Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development (LHAND) to connect residents with skill building and employment services to improve opportunities and inclusion in Lynn.
“On this particular Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, it’s moving to me that we are dedicating our energy to create a welcoming opportunity for the immigrant community in Lynn,” said Jerry Rubin, JVS CEO. “We’ve been very blessed today.”
By placing flyers on car windshields and doorknobs of homes, volunteers spread awareness about social services and the JVS English for Advancement (EFA) program, which provides free English classes and job training.
“This program is very important for me and the community of Lynn,” said EFA student Guerline Pierre Plaisir. “Before I did not speak well. I encourage everyone to come to the JVS EFA. JVS helps everyone to get a better job.”
Originally from Haiti, the ambitious Plaisir, who has lived in Lynn for two years, joined the EFA program in 2007, and has personally experienced how JVS connects students and employers to help grow the economy.
“It’s appropriate that we’re doing this event on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 89th birthday. I am inspired by this day of service,” said Mayor Tom McGee. “People are celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message: making sure that everyone has opportunities.”