Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida to launch Spirit Works

Special to The Sun

In an ongoing effort to provide help and hope to Florida Panhandle individuals and families who were adversely affected by the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in 2010, Executive Director Mark Dufva of Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida recently announced a new jobs initiative known as Spirit Works. The program is available to residents in seven coastal counties: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, and Franklin.

Dufva explained that Spirit Works is a client-centered program that utilizes a holistic approach to support those needing sustainable employment through livable wages in these seven counties. This innovative solution, funded by a grant from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, offers employment-skills training; case management; job placement services; on-going support sessions; mental health counseling and assistance securing other community resources.

Spirit Works operates with a five-person team of professionals consisting of a case manager, job coach, job placement specialist, counselor and support personnel across Catholic Charities regional offices in Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach and Panama City. In addition, Catholic Charities is partnering with the Gulf Coast Workforce Board to provide jobs assistance in Gulf and Franklin Counties.

Dufva indicated that the overall goal is to mitigate the negative impact of the oil spill disaster by providing services to 4,000 individuals across the region. Ultimately, the program’s goal is to help clients remain housed and employed with sufficient household income and remain psychologically healthy for successful daily living. Clients participating in and receiving services with the Spirit Works’ programs are required to actively seek and eventually secure employment.

Dufva said, “Our ultimate aim is sustainable workforce development: to restore security and empower individuals to return to work, whether in the service industry, other growth industries in the region or through access of job retraining in partnership with local workforce boards and community colleges.”

To apply for career assistance through Spirit Works, calls are accepted in Pensacola from 9-11 a.m. on Wednesdays at 850-436-6425. In Fort Walton Beach, calls are accepted from 1-4 p.m. on Thursdays at 850-244-2825. In Panama City, calls are accepted from 9-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 850-763-0475. Walk in service is not available at any location.