A local program that helps residents move from public assistance to employment is marking its 10th year.

Guests gathered at the Hotel Louisville Friday for a luncheon to celebrate Power of Work. The program has helped more than 5,000 people move from public assistance, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, to find jobs.

Ramonica Kellam (pictured above) attends Jefferson Community and Technical College and plans to transfer to University of Louisville to study social work. 

“This program really helped me as far as confidence, motivation, the do’s and don’ts, proper etiquette of an interview,” said Kellam.

She was one of the graduates who spoke at the luncheon. Kellam was a part of the first class in 2007 and returned for help in 2013 after a bout with depression and other problems.

“I can always come back to the Power of Work and they’ll help me find employment,” she said. “It’s guaranteed for the rest of my life. It’s an open door policy — they don’t close theirs.”

Kimberly Boyd-Lane is program manager of Power of Work. She said some participants have sparse or even no history of work but can look at other areas of their lives for job skills.

“They need to be able to understand that when they’re managing in the home, that’s a management skill that is transferable in the world of work,” said Boyd-Lane. “Budgeting is transferable in the world of work.”

Participants have found work at 1,300 area companies and organizations. Michele Lindsey, human resource manager at Hollander Sleep Products, attended the luncheon Friday to find potential employees. Lindsey has hired baggers, shippers and machine operators through the program.

“They show up on time, they can pass a drug test, the background checking — they’re willing to work hard,” Lindsey said of the graduates.

Language barriers exist for some workers from Power of Work but Lindsey said the company uses language software to help. The company has 160 employees. In the year since Lindsey has been at Hollander she said the company has hired 10-20 employees from Power of Work.  

The program has a current budget of $1.2 million and is federally funded. Power of Work is operated by Metro Government’s KentuckianaWorks and Goodwill Industries of Kentucky.