With assistance from the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network, Long Beach-based EmpowerCare has been able to increase workplace productivity while supporting the community by employing local youth. Administered by the City of Long Beach, Pacific Gateway helps meet employment needs of residents and businesses in Long Beach, Signal Hill and Los Angeles harbor communities.

 

EmpowerCare, located on Spring Street, is a care management and care coordination company for local seniors and disabled adults who have recently been hospitalized or in a care facility. EmpowerCare helps these individuals transition back into independent living in their own homes, according to La’Keisha Phillips, director of case management and social services.

La’Keisha Phillips, right, director of case management for Long Beach-based EmpowerCare, hired UC Irvine student Yajaira Ramirez through the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network’s Youth Jobs Program. Pacific Gateway covered her wages while she gained work experience and EmpowerCare benefited from her assistance around the office. (Photograph by the Business Journal’s Larry Duncan)

 

The business employs independent contractors to go out to clients’ homes for consultation, but there are few employees working in the office. “We are basically always looking for help,” Phillips said. She first found out about Pacific Gateway through a colleague about four years ago. “Obviously, being a small business and women- and minority-owned, we didn’t have a lot of resources,” Phillips said.

 

When EmpowerCare needs extra help around the office, Phillips simply calls Pacific Gateway, explains what she needs, and the organization sends over resumes of qualified candidates. Primarily, EmpowerCare has employed students through Pacific Gateway’s Youth Jobs Program, which covers youths’ wages while they gain around 100 hours of work experience.

 

“The biggest needs we had were organizing files and answering the phones,” Phillips said. Workers hired on through Pacific Gateway have also helped the business gather information about local resources available to their clientele. “Believe it or not, seniors and disabled adults don’t necessarily know what could be down the street in terms of what types of resources are available,” she explained. “That’s where we come in, and that’s where the Pacific Gateway students have helped us.”

 

EmpowerCare is currently employing a third-year University of California, Irvine student, Yajaira Ramirez, through the Youth Jobs Program until she goes back to school. She fulfills duties others in the office might not have time for, such as entering client information into the company’s database, composing letters, scheduling meetings and more.

 

In a small business with few employees, having someone to accomplish these tasks frees Phillips to focus on other matters. Without Ramirez’s help, the work she has been doing might not have been completed for another month, Phillips estimated. “She is the perfect candidate because she follows instructions, takes directions easily and writes down everything. I love that.”

 

Phillips is so happy with Ramirez’s work that she offered her a position at the business, although Ramirez could not accept it because her university is too far away. “I hate to see her go, but I told her, ‘When you graduate in a year and a half, come back.’”

 

EmpowerCare plans to continue to use the Youth Jobs Program both to meet its employment needs and to provide local youth with work opportunities, Phillips said. “I have nothing but positive things to say about the program,” she reflected. “I wish it were around when I was young.”

 

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