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updated: 1/28/2016 9:05 AM

Naperville career center marks 20 years of helping jobseekers

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  • Sarah Breithaupt, director of youth and family services for Lisle Township and a career counselor, leads the Job Club networking workshop Wednesday at Community Career Center in Naperville, where Chuck Grimmins of Downers Grove is a participant. The career center is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

      Sarah Breithaupt, director of youth and family services for Lisle Township and a career counselor, leads the Job Club networking workshop Wednesday at Community Career Center in Naperville, where Chuck Grimmins of Downers Grove is a participant. The career center is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Carl Zelonis of Naperville talks about the kind of job he is looking for during the Job Club meeting Wednesday at Community Career Center in Naperville. The center is celebrating its 20th anniversary of providing resources to jobseekers.

      Carl Zelonis of Naperville talks about the kind of job he is looking for during the Job Club meeting Wednesday at Community Career Center in Naperville. The center is celebrating its 20th anniversary of providing resources to jobseekers.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 
Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the membership fee to join the Community Career Center. The fee is $75.

With 20 years experience helping people land jobs, the Community Career Center in Naperville is making plans to be around for at least another 20 more.

The nonprofit job assistance center is launching an endowment to provide long-term financial stability in case other funding sources run out, Executive Director Kim White said.

Board members say the goal is to reach $25,000 in the next three years and $40,000 eventually in the fund established with the DuPage Foundation, a nonprofit group that manages investments for charities and provides grants.

"Strategically, the job market changes and the need for different services continues to change," board member Harrison Mayfield of Naperville said. "The center needs to be positioned to be able to deal with that long term."

White said the center is seeking donations for the endowment and reminding supporters that job search help is vital even during improved economic times.

"Our resources are still needed even though unemployment numbers are going down," White said.

Community Career Center resources include workshops, networking sessions, one-on-one appointments with volunteers, 10 computer stations on which to conduct a search and connections to job boards and other social services.

"It's a very intelligent approach so that it helps us to keep our energy levels up and use our energies in a way that's going to give us the best opportunity to land a job," jobseeker Carl Zalonis of Naperville said.

White said the center assisted 1,119 jobseekers last year -- 199 of whom landed jobs. Those 1,100 are among more than 16,000 people who've received help from the center since it was established in September 1996.

"We now offer workshops, which we didn't used to do in the past. We have over 40 volunteers who meet one-on-one with our jobseekers, which was not the case in the past," White said. "The offerings have clearly expanded based on what we've done in years past and keeping up with trends and making sure we're offering our jobseekers all the tools and resources that they need."

Trends in networking mean using social media is increasingly important, Mayfield said. Trends in technology mean many jobseekers need to improve skills on programs such as Microsoft Excel and learn the steps of the modern recruiting process.

Searchers who land positions report an average salary of $60,000, proving many weren't looking for entry-level work.

"Higher-level positions have become harder to secure," Mayfield said. "Candidates have to go through more rigorous screening than they have in the past."

To join the career center, jobseekers sign up for a yearlong membership with a $75 payment. If they can't pay, the center uses donations to waive the fee. Funding for the center's $205,000 operating budget comes from the United Way, DuPage County, the city of Naperville, Lisle and Naperville townships, the Naperville Rotary, Jaycees and Exchange clubs, Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, Nicor, Meson Sabika and donations from individuals, corporations and churches.

"It's critical that people in Naperville realize that there is a need," board member Tim Fallon of Naperville said. "There's really an underserved community within our community that doesn't get as much attention."

To donate to the Community Career Center's endowment with cash, stocks, retirement plans, insurance policies or assets, visit http://www.communitycareercenter.org/support_ccc or call (630) 961-5665.

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