As part of a new Q&A series with our Executive Team, we talked with Jeff Booth, Senior Vice President of our workforce development programs that help people–including the unemployed and underemployed–to find jobs and and gain the skills they need to succeed in the Philadelphia regional workforce.
Q. What are the critical issues that JEVS Human Services addresses in the programs you oversee?
A. The programs I help all have work at the core of their mission. Each has a set of specific goals, usually determined by the funding source and the specific group of people we are trying to help. The needs of refugees differ from those of mature workers or returning citizens. Connecting a young mom without much education or work experience to job opportunities will require a different approach than a young adult on the autism spectrum. But they are all seeking the dignity and independence that comes with learning new skills and maximizing their potential through employment.
Q. What are your clients’ challenges? What are the innovative and tried-and-true services that these programs use to meet clients’ challenges?
A. The challenges are as diverse as the groups we serve. The most common challenges that we help all of our participants contend with are realizing opportunities and overcoming fear. We work to show them all of the opportunities that exist for them and help them overcome their fear of the unknown and the trauma of past failures. Being there when that light goes on and the client you are working with starts to see that they have something to offer is addictive. I started in this work in 1990 and I’ve been chasing the feeling of the first job I ever helped someone get since then.
Each of our Workforce Development programs has elements in the design that represent cutting edge best practices. To me, the most exciting innovation is taking place every day at the one-to-one level in our workshops, counseling sessions and home visits.
Q. What exciting services, initiatives, etc. do you have set for 2017-2018?
A. We have greatly increased our services for returning citizens with dedicated workshops at our CareerLink and a contract with the PA Department of Corrections. Also, we’ve augmented JEVS Program for Offenders behind the walls in the Philadelphia prisons to include bridge services for our participants post-release.
Q. A little birdie told us that you were at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Socchi, a world stage of triumph and achievements. Can you describe one JEVS client achievement that stands out in your mind?
A. I’m so lucky to have known thousands of people who have overcome so much. Some of the success stories that are closest to my heart are those of clients and participants we’ve hired ourselves. Some of our best employees were once our clients. They’ve overcome severe poverty, learning disabilities and personal tragedies and now come to work at JEVS every day to put that personal experience to work. They motivate our participants as examples of the possibility of great things to come and they inspire me and all of their coworkers to keep working for the next client that comes to JEVS for help.
Q. Most people probably don’t know that you are a musician. Can you tell us about your recording studio and why music is so important to you?
A. I started playing when I was 8 and have been in bands most of my life. I began recording my band and others in the 90s and have stuck with it ever since. Today, I have small recording studios in Philadelphia and in a log cabin in the Catskills. I’m fascinated with manipulating sound and in turn influencing people’s thoughts and feelings. A great recording is so much more than great sounds.