CAO offers variety of help

Published 9:57 am Monday, August 24, 2015

When it comes to finding jobs and transportation around the Tri-State, the Ironton-Lawrence Community Action Organization (CAO) aims to offer local residents the resources to do both. Through the Workforce Investment Program, the CAO provides job seekers with the resources to find new jobs or training. The organization’s Public Transportation Program works to help residents travel where they need to go around the Tri-State.

The Workforce Investment Program focuses on helping clients find jobs or continuing education that is right for them based on their current job and family situations.

“They’re placed with a case manager and discuss what’s going on,” said Jewell Hackworth, program director for Workforce Investment. “We do resumes and applications…for individuals.”

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When clients choose to pursue training, the program seeks to help clients in any field that is in demand, said Hackworth.

Program staff take a holistic approach when it comes to helping clients, said Hackworth. If clients have other needs that are not specifically career related, they are referred to other resources in the OneStop center where the program is housed.

“We want to make sure that needs are met,” said Hackworth. “We try to address everything.”

The program offers clients the opportunity to learn on-the-job skills by placing them in businesses that partner with the program. Hackworth said that job training is a way to meet the clients’ and employers’ needs.

While the program serves about 2,000 clients each month, Hackworth said the program wants to make each of them feel welcome.

“We want people to know that we care,” said Hackworth.

“I feel it has a very positive impact and role in the community. We want to help people.”

Like the Workforce Investment Program, the CAO’s Public Transportation offers rides when needed.

“(We) wanted to provide a system that would help folks,” said Mike Payne, director of Public Transportation. “We want to make an available choice inexpensive.”

Forming a partnership with the Tri-State Transit Authority allowed the Public Transportation program to expand its reach throughout Lawrence County and the Tri-State.

“Lots of people rely on the system,” said Payne.

Public Transportation Program’s van service provides seniors transportation to medical appointments and area hospitals. Payne said that seniors enjoy the personalized experience of the van service that relies on CAO workers to come pick up seniors at their residences and drive them to their appointments.

In 2010 the program opened the Transit Center in downtown Ironton.

“It’s become a central part of downtown,” said Payne. “It allows the public access indoors if need be.”

As part of the Transit Center, the Transit Café offers meals for local residents and individuals getting off the buses near the transportation center. The Transit Café provides an opportunity for the Public Transportation Program to partner with the Lawrence County Board of Developmental Disabilities (DD) and provide jobs for its participants.

“DD actually operates the Transit Center Café,” said Payne. “You’re basically supporting DD when you come to the Transit Café.”

Payne said the partnership has been well received by various organizations.

“The health department was ecstatic about the partnership,” said Payne.

Information about the CAO’s programs can be found online at