JOLIET – The city of Joliet is considering a possible job training program tied to a local nonprofit group.
Adrian Heath, head of Redeemed Connection Ministries in Joliet, has proposed a program in which the organization would take over a segment of the city’s lawn mowing contracts.
Redeemed Connection Ministries would combine mowing of city property with a job training program for young people and adults, Heath said. The nonprofit group would get work now going to private contractors, he said.
“The money would come from what is already being spent,” Heath said. “We would be doing that same work.”
Heath made the proposal at a June 30 meeting of the Joliet City Council’s Diversity and Community Relations Committee.
The proposal has been referred to city staff for consideration.
Employment and job training in low-income neighborhoods were issues in the recent City Council election.
Councilwoman Bettye Gavin, who chairs the Diversity and Community Relations Committee, had talked about pursuing job and training programs linked with nonprofit groups during her successful campaign.
Gavin said grass mowing is a job that needs to be done. She said she gets calls from constituents daily about grass growing too high, and much of it is on city-owned property.
“We own a lot of lots and are responsible for a lot of lots,” Gavin said. “There’s way more work out there than they can handle.”
One issue the city may have to resolve is whether to open a job training program that receives city funds to proposals from organizations beyond Redeemed Connection Ministries.
“I’m sure we’d consider anyone else in the community who does something similar,” City Manager Jim Hock said.
Redeemed Connection Ministries does not do job training now. The organization was formed in 2006 as a counseling and educational group, Heath said. But board members do have experience in job training, he said.
Heath owns a lawn service company named A & R Lawn Service. He said the company would be kept separate from any job training contract developed with the city for lawn mowing services, with the exception that the business may donate equipment for the work and may consider hiring people who complete the program.
The plan is use the lawn contract to provide basic work experience, as well as teach job discipline to those who are high school and college age, as well as adults in need of employment, he said.
“Through job preparedness and job training, we would be helping many who are in despair,” Heath said. “They would find hope and become productive members of our society.”