CAC Executive Director Francis Horton, left, talks to Dunwoody Councilmembers Rob Price and Stacey Harris outside the CAC’s offices and Career Center on Hightower Trail in Sandy Sprigns. (Bob Pepalis)

An open house for the Community Assistance Center’s Career Center was an opportunity to bring three workforce experts for a discussion on how to get the local workforce into the workplace.

“The mission of Community Assistance Center is to prevent homelessness and hunger. And since 1987, we’ve done a pretty good job of getting people through the crisis, and even helping them move toward financial stability,” CEO/Executive Director Francis Horton said at the open house on Sept. 22. “The Career Center is kind of the next step of help helping people to stay beyond the crisis.”

Career Center Manager George Northrop said its model starts with people who come to the CAC for financial assistance. Those clients are sent to the Career Center to assess their skills, abilities and needs. A career advocate assists them with job searches.

In addition, the Career Center at 1130 Hightower Trail in Sandy Springs offers educational resources, access to training and certification programs and partnerships with local employers.

“This seems like a way to give people a leg up on the networking and networking opportunities that they might not get somewhere else to be complaining,” Dunwoody City Councilmember Rob Price told Reporter Newspapers. “And so that’s, that’s where I see its biggest help is they mentioned just connecting people to services.”

Dunwoody Councilmember Stacey Harris said she asked CAC’s Horton how the Career Center ties in with Dunwoody and its CAC location. He told her staff in Dunwoody would do the initial intake for community members served by that location and would refer them to the Career Center in Sandy Springs.

Harris said her other thought came after hearing CAC would tie in with State Farm and help them out is that the city needs to get the word out that the company is in Dunwoody, next to a MARTA station.

Northrop and his team work closely with local employers and government entities such as Northside Hospital, the city of Sandy Springs and Goodwill of North Georgia to place the candidates in jobs and training. Representatives from those organizations took part in a panel discussion on how even non-traditional employee candidates can find jobs.

Northside Hospital’s Erin Powell said the organization uses non-traditional methods to train and hire new employees to fill healthcare shortages. (Bob Pepalis)

Erin Powell with Talent Acquisition at Northside Hospital said it employs more than 30,000 people.

“We have struggled like every other healthcare institution over the last three years with staffing and meeting the needs of our patient population, but we’ve come up with some unique and creative solutions to do that,” she said.

Examples of non-traditional programs Northside has created include a CNA certification program in which its participants are paid for training.

“We are helping them get into a career path that can lead to becoming an LPN, to becoming an RN,” Powell said.

Carolyn Davis, Economic Development manager for Sandy Springs, said the CAC Career Center is a marketing asset that helps her sell the city to businesses. (Bob Pepalis)

Sandy Springs Economic Development Manager Carolyn Davis said much of what she does is connecting the workforce with the employers.

The CAC Career Center “is an incredible marketing asset for me to sell why businesses should come to this community because there are resources like this that care about delivering the talented workforce those employers are looking for,” she said.

Glorivee Cruz-Velazquez of Goodwill of North Georgia said her organization partners with the CAC Career Center to serve North Fulton. (Bob Pepalis)

Goodwill of North Georgia serves 30,000 people and put 16,000 people to work by getting job leads, attending job fairs and presenting skills training programs, said Glorivee Cruz-Velazquez, director of Employment Services, Goodwill of North Georgia. The organization also offers credentialing programs and works with local community colleges to get clients training and skills to turn a job into a career.

Though Goodwill of North Georgia has 14 career centers of its own, none of them are in North Fulton.

“We thought it was a great opportunity to partner with George and Francis in the team here to be able to service individuals in this area and bring a lot of the services that we already do,” she said.

Jerry Veltri, chief mission officer for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Georgia, speaks with Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul at the Career Center opening. (Bob Pepalis)

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.