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Creating Meaningful Change

Ashley Littlewolf

– Workforce Development Case Manager, Southeastern North Dakota Community Action (SENDCAA)

Tell us a little about your job and how it relates to New Americans?

I am a Workforce Development Case Manager at SENDCAA. Southeastern North Dakota Community Action Agency (SENDCAA), is a non-profit that serves low-income individuals with a variety of services. The Workforce Development program’s goal is to connect underemployed or unemployed individuals into in-demand training programs with the intent of obtaining livable wage employment. My work aims to decrease barriers for populations that historically have been underserved or marginalized; such as the New American population. The New American population that I have worked with faces a variety of barriers to obtaining livable wage jobs and this program is intended to help bridge that gap.

What do you love most about your job?

I love being a part of the growth of the clients that I serve. Walking alongside them as they realize their potential and gain confidence in their ability to accomplish goals. Seeing individuals who were once in poverty and crisis, be able to provide for their families is the most rewarding.

What is the most challenging part of your job in regard to New Americans?

Barriers to employment. There are larger issues that need to be addressed systemically in regards to the hiring and recruitment process of potential employees. The New American population that I work with faces a different set of challenges when it comes to obtaining livable wage employment. Challenges around language and cultural barriers, access to technology for applying for jobs, their education and employment background from their home country not being recognized as experience, the list goes on and on. I am an advocate for all individuals that I serve in my program; I strongly believe that more employers need to be more aware of the barriers that are created in their hiring process and the limits they put on valuable, diverse candidates from obtaining employment.

How does diversity enhance the FM community?

Diversity is the essence of human existence. It is so important to have a diverse population filled with a variety of beliefs, backgrounds, ideas and opinions because it promotes creativity and growth. We all have room to grow and learn, and this
is easier to do when we have a community filled with diversity.

How can we all help welcome people from different backgrounds?

Being self-aware and approaching each person we meet with an open mind. Being willing to learn and to challenge yourself to accept differences.

Nolan P. Schmidt

Written by Nolan P. Schmidt

Nolan is the Editor of Fargo Monthly. Schmidt is also the Editor of Spotlight Media's Bison Illustrated and Future Farmer publications. He is originally from Bismarck, N.D. and is a proud graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead.

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