Canton Repository

January 26, 2005

Student assistance program coming to Canton

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON — An organization that promotes self-sufficiency among the unemployed and others who need assistance plans to open an office in Canton as early as September.

National Student Partnerships, which provides services through college-student volunteers, chose Canton as the site of its 16th office after receiving $600,000 in earmarked federal funds through Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township.

The Washington-based organization plans to locate its Canton program within The Employment Source, a federally funded work force development and training center in the city.

Sharon Parry, executive director of Employment Source, welcomed the assistance that National Student Partnerships would provide.

“I’m thrilled with it,” Parry said.

The Employment Source seeks to connect qualified job seekers with employers who are looking to hire, she said. Parry explained that many of these job seekers need help finding child care, health care, transportation or other services, and this is where National Student Partnerships would come in.

It would recruit volunteers from nearby colleges and universities, who would assist the job seekers to find the additional services they need to become self-sufficient.

Student volunteers in the program have proven effective in Chicago and Evanston, Ill., Pittsburgh, Pa., and other cities where the nonprofit organization has established offices, said Kirsten Lodal, its CEO.

“Students possess a tremendous amount of idealism, tenacity, research skills and technological skills, which are not to be underestimated,” she said.

National Student Partnerships, founded in 1998, has received federal funding for the past several years. The $600,000 secured by Regula is more than the organization received last year, Lodal said.

Opening an office in Canton will cost at least $50,000, she said. Although the program is volunteer driven, there are some costs for staff, as well as equipment and training.

The Employment Source also has an office in New Philadelphia for Tuscarawas County residents. There are no plans to extend the National Student Partnerships program to the New Philadelphia office, but that could change if there is a demonstrated need, Parry and Lodal said.

Regula, who represents the Canton area, reserved $600,000 for the National Student Partnerships in a spending bill that Congress approved last November.

As a subcommittee chairman on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Regula has used his position to steer millions of dollars in federal spending to schools, hospitals, and other organizations both inside and outside his congressional district.