Archive for Sunday, September 19, 2004

Laid-Off Workers center to close

September 19, 2004

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— A center for laid-off workers in Wichita will close because of a drop in the number of people seeking its help.

United Way of the Plains officials said Friday the Help Center for Laid-Off Workers will open for the last time on Oct. 1, after three years of helping Wichita-area residents looking for jobs and other resources.

The center, which had been opening once a month, helped 2,200 people and provided more than $1.2 million in emergency financial help since it opened. At its peak earlier this year, the center served 660 people a month, United Way president Pat Hanrahan said.

But the center has seen a steady drop in clients, beginning in the second quarter of this year. Last month, it served about 150 people.

"That meant people were getting their lives back in order," Hanrahan said. "That's what we wanted to see."

Also, clients were allowed to use the center 12 times, so nearly half of last month's clients won't qualify for help after October.

Nearly 30 government groups, nonprofit agencies and companies provided food boxes, budget counseling, job information and other services at the center.

Hanrahan said the center was not closing because of budget concerns. The United Way used $1.2 million from its reserve fund to keep the center open.

The center first opened in December 2001 to supplement regular social services when thousands of people were laid off by the city's aircraft industry after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

At the time, United Way expected the center to be open for 12 to 18 months, but next month will be the center's 35th month of operation.

Sixty percent of the people helped in those months were aircraft workers and 80 percent were Wichita residents.

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