Connecting Southside Residents with Employment and Success

Walking into the Community Connections Center of the Emma L. Johnston Southside Family Resource Center, one is greeted with cheerful blue walls and green plants, new computers and a billboard filled with local job postings.

This optimistic center holds two workspaces that serve as the home for PEACE, Inc.’s career preparation services. Here, Southside residents can view job openings and receive assistance and mentorship as they apply and interview for jobs.

Taking a tour with Charles Rivers, the Family Resource Center’s coordinator, it’s clear a holistic approach is being taken to address community issues. A living room serves as a place for people to relax. Fresh food, prepared to be distributed to families daily, is stocked in the dining room. There’s a rack of clothes in the hallway for use on job interviews and upstairs there is a fully stocked food pantry and a meeting room that provides a safe space for discussion.

Job postings at the Community Connections Center

The new Community Connections Center is the organization’s next step towards helping empower individuals to become self-sufficient. The unemployment rate in the 13205 zip code on the Southside is an astonishing 16 percent. Over 34 percent of residents live below the poverty line. The Center’s Career Prep program helps people attain and retain employment by providing employment workshops, job interview practice and additional pre-employment support.

“Charles realized that people needed to have more help applying for, acquiring and going to jobs,” said Melissa Hidek, development manager at PEACE, Inc.

The Family Resource Center sees approximately 100 families each year for assistance with preparing for work. And since 2016, the center has served more than 3,000 people through daily food and clothing giveaways and emergency food services. Charles Rivers adds, “We also address barriers to employment like transportation, child care and health services.”

The Community Foundation provided a small grant to help outfit the Community Connections Center with new computers, desks, chairs, tables and office supplies. The grant also went towards completing renovation of the second floor meeting room.

“Greater access to employment preparedness and placement is paramount to addressing poverty,” said Danielle Gill, director of community grantmaking at the Central New York Community Foundation.

“PEACE’s Southside Family Resource Center is centrally located in the community and the addition of a workforce component to the existing programming at the center is a welcome and much needed resource. The Community Foundation is happy to support these efforts.”

PEACE Inc. and the Southside Family Resource Center hope to change perceptions of the Southside by bringing neighbors together, increasing workers’ skills, connecting resources and encouraging economic inclusion.

To learn more about PEACE Inc. and to get involved, visit

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