photo: ken lavallee
Carol Lynch, a Next Steps Counselor Coordinator in Brookline knew her program was helping some people but when the program received a Job Development grant through the Recovery Act last August, she was able to hire another employee, increase her own hours and help more people find work.

"Stimulus funds enabled our program to expand," says Lynch.

Next Steps is a resource and referral program that was created to meet the needs of a diverse group of low income adults in Brookline and Greater Boston.

One of those people is Maria, a 37-year single mother of a one-year old boy. Maria was working in a nursing home as a care nurse assistant but after she delivered her son by a Caesarean section she could no longer do the physically demanding work the job required. She had to resign her position.

After losing her job, Maria couldn't pay her rent and she and her son ended up in a homeless shelter. Eventually, Maria was able to qualify for low income housing and her social worker referred her to Lynch to help her with employment prospects.

"I put her in the Recovery Act grant because of her prospects for long term employment," says Lynch. "Under the Recovery Act I have a certain number of clients. I felt she could get her a good job that could lead to benefits."

Carol was able to meet with Lindsay one on one, help her improve her computer skills, developing a resume, writing cover letters, and connecting her with potential employers.

"She had a certified nursing degree and I knew someone at a private care institution. I encourage her to apply there," says Lynch. "They weren't advertising but I had a connection so I got her an interview. They liked her so they hired her. That's why my program was expanded. Now I can make these connections and help people."

Maria loves her new job and says that she would eventually like to go back to school to get her registered nurse degree or to become a criminal forensic scientist. "The stimulus program helps people get back on their feet and move forward," she says.