Headquartered in Paradise at the Together Community Center on Lincoln Highway, the Factory Ministries is a faith-based human-services nonprofit whose program aim at helping people to overcome generational poverty.
“Any issue of human need (that someone has), as they come to our front door, we say ‘We’re going to journey with you.’” Executive Director Adam Nagle said.
In the wake of the pandemic, spurred by local businesses’ concerns about finding and retaining employees, Factory Ministries piloted a workforce development program in partnership with Kitchen Kettle Village.
Now it its looking to scale up the program and expand it to other companies. United Way of Lancaster County is supporting the initiative with a $19,000 Level Up & Launch grant.
The program is an extension of the Factory Ministries’ multi-track Adult Advocacy program. Individuals struggling with poverty can receive help with their immediate needs; clients are then helped to set life goals and put them into action.
One United Lancaster talked to Nagle and Mike Lewis, who heads the workforce program, about their experience starting and growing it.
Nagle gave examples of concerns he was hearing in the community toward the end of the pandemic: On the one hand, a restaurant couldn’t recruit the staff it needed to reopen; meanwhile, local individuals had trouble finding jobs. There was clearly a disconnect.
“As we had that conversation, we realized: we have these two realities; what difference can we make?” Nagle said. “We said: What if we could walk as a bridge?”
The pilot at Kitchen Kettle Village involved adapting The Factory Ministries’ Adult Advocacy program into a Workforce Advocacy version: Making advocacy services available to front-line workers, while also providing consulting to Kitchen Kettle Village’s management. It has been “hugely successful,” Nagle said.
Level Up & Launch allows Lewis to run the Workforce Advocacy program full-time, offering it to other businesses in the Factory Ministries’ service area.
Lewis said he connects workers with resources such as food assistance, state benefits or counseling. Then, he said, he works with them on long-term planning and goal-setting.
“You’re looking at the employee as a whole,” Lewis said, explaining that he makes sure he is accessible to Kitchen Kettle workers. He offered some examples of what he helps with: work goals, skill building, career advancement, physical and mental health.
“Workforce retention is one concrete metric that comes out of this program, but there’s also the business of setting up a safer work environment and opportunities for growth,” Lewis said.
Meanwhile, he is able to consult with management on the workplace culture. Factory Ministries can provide executive coaching and advise on employee assistance programs.
That helps to promote “a continued culture of care, which Kitchen Kettle Village is passionate about,” Nagle said.
Lewis said the Workforce Advocacy program can be adapted as needed to fit clients’ needs and their workplace culture. Factory Ministries is eager to get started, he said.