Missouri Customer Service Partnership Connects Foster Teens with Jobs and Mentors
“Even though they are not family, they are as close as a family as I could ask for,” said Darrin Plumlee, a recent graduate of the Missouri Customer Service Partnership (MCSP).
MCSP began in the fall of 2014 as a pilot initiative in Springfield and St. Louis to connect teens and young adults who have aged out of the foster system with a 10-week course that provides them with 3 professional certificates and 4 hours of college credit towards customer service-based jobs.
“The certificates I received help for sure because having the papers to back up my work skills made it easier to get interviews,” said Plumlee who was also able to gain work experience at the OTC book store while he was in the program.
MCSP is also designed to help participants boost their confidence while guiding them into career paths. This is accomplished by connecting them with mentors.
“We have so much fun. It’s more like a friendship,” said mentor Abbey Hedges. “It doesn’t always have to be about what’s wrong or what can I help you with. It’s more about just everyday kind of friendship.”
And for teens like Plumlee, who spent most of his life in the foster system, that’s worth more than anything.
“She’s been there for me when others weren’t,” said Plumlee. “With her, I know I’m not fighting this fight alone. Even if I’m going through a rough spot, I know there are people there to help me.”
Plumlee is one of 12 who have completed the MCSP with another 8 expected to graduate this fall. Additionally, 8 are engaged in the Career Launch Community, which provides additional monthly support and employability skills training. To date, 6 graduates are employed and the others are actively seeking employment.
Would you like to get involved? If so, volunteer as a mentor or allow your business to be a partner in the program. Contact Amanda Coleman at 417-888-2020 for more information.
Community Partnership of the Ozarks, Ozarks Technical Community College, the MO Dept. of Workforce Development and the MO Dept. of Social Services are proud partners of the Missouri Customer Service Partnership.