DATE: September 12, 2000      NO: 01-13

CONTACT: John Merkouris  Phone: (907)443-2626

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release


Welfare to Work the Focus

Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Employment Security Division director, Rebecca Gamez announced today two new hires in the Nome Job Center, one of 22 job centers across the state that provide employment, job training and temporary assistance services. Kristine Rawert and Sandra Drake, both lifelong Alaskans, will begin their new jobs this week in Nome, responsible for case management under a collaborative agreement with the Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Assistance (DPA).

The positions are funded by an agreement with DPA in an attempt to broaden services to welfare to work clients in the Nome area, moving clients from benefit dependence to economic self-sufficiency. Said Ms. Gamez of the new hires, "I have confidence that these positions will make a substantial difference in the lives of individuals who will be served."

Both new staff members bring significant experience to the Nome Job Center, including expertise in rural employment issues. Ms. Drake was born in Pitka’s Point on the lower Yukon and recently worked as a Peer Worker with the Department of Community and Economic Development, with special emphasis in the Yukon River fishery disaster of 1999. Ms. Rawert was recently employed with the Fairbanks Resource Agency where she was a case manager helping adults who experience disabilities find employment. Said John Merkouris, Nome Job Center manager, "The importance of this kind of work cannot be overstated because for many families, the clock on a five-year limit of lifetime benefits is ticking."

The Nome Job Center is located on 320 Front Street in Nome and delivers employment, job training and temporary assistance services for northwestern Alaska. The Nome center is part of the Alaska Job Center Network, set up by a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Labor for the public at easy-to-reach locations throughout Alaska. In Nome, the center provides an array of employment, training, educational and social services for job seekers, including vocational counseling, job development and referral, adult basic education classes, job skills training and welfare to work assistance. For employers, the job center provides job posting and matching, and information on hiring, human resource management, plus coordination of mass hiring events. Last year the center posted over 580 jobs for Nome area employers. Currently the center averages 15 to 25 job openings per week.

For more information about the Nome Job Center, contact John Merkouris in Nome at 907-443-2626 or visit the Alaska Job Center Network Web pages here.

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