JVS gets California grant to aid emigre employment

Ex-Soviet emigres are among those most affected by the downturn in the economy.

But thanks to a grant from the state of California, Jewish Vocational Services will be more equipped to help them.

The San Francisco organization was among 20 new and 20 ongoing programs to receive grant money from the state, designated specifically for community and faith-based organizations.

"One of our key constituencies is the 40,000 Soviet refugees" in the area, said Abby Snay, executive director of JVS.

"They've really been hit hard by the recession, and often are not as competitive on the job market."

The $268,000 grant will enable the agency to increase the number of people it is serving, helping them with placement and training in job, language and interviewing skills.

Since last July, JVS has helped about 3,500 people, said Snay, about a 20 percent increase over the previous year. In Snay's estimation, the grant will allow JVS to aid 200 more participants.

"It expands our capacity," she explained. "We're doing these things anyhow, but this helps us increase our capacity to serve more people in the community."

JVS applied for the grant in October and is among the second group of grantees; the grant was established last year.

This year, a total of $3.75 million was awarded to innovative and diversified employment-assistance programs and services to individuals not traditionally served by the state's workforce development system.

"These grants continue our commitment of reaching out to people who might not otherwise use government services," said Gov. Gray Davis, in a press conference in April. "Community and faith-based organizations are well connected to their local neighborhoods and have a unique role in improving people's lives."

Other recipients include organizations that serve a wide range of high-risk and hard-to-employ individuals who are homeless, substance abusers, foster youths, long-term public assistance recipients, non-custodial parents, as well as those with limited English-speaking ability.

"We're just thrilled to be one of 20 agencies who will be able to benefit from this funding," said Snay. The agency will now be better able to help clients "find which jobs are most viable for them and increase our ability to contact employers to develop job opportunities for our clients."

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."