Richard Clough, Sustainable Indiana
Just a block off Main St. in Madison, Indiana is a 1950 building that once housed a car dealership. You can’t buy a car there anymore but if you’re unemployed or underemployed, you can get an enormous variety of help. It’s called the Clearinghouse and it has provided a path to a good, satisfying job for a great many people over the years.
The Clearinghouse is a child of River Valley Resources, which since 1990 has sought to develop a trained and competitive workforce in the 12 county area of southeast and central Indiana. The non-profit has impacted the lives of over 115,000 dislocated workers, disadvantaged youths, people with disabilities and ex-offenders.
In 2007, the Clearinghouse was opened in the former car dealership building to provide a wide range of services under one roof. The impetus came from a group of area clergy, and churches continue to be partners in the endeavor. Various agencies have offices there and work together to support one another and become a pipeline to the workforce. The needs of individuals coming to the Clearinghouse are assessed and every effort is made to overcome any obstacle to full employment. GED classes are offered. Childcare vouchers can be obtained. Ex-offenders find a place where they can re-enter the workforce. Job training programs are made available. The Clearinghouse hosts a free legal clinic and there is an extensive food pantry. The Clearinghouse tackles whatever barriers stand between the individual and a good job.
Over 100 partner organizations have ties to the project. These include social service agencies, government agencies, churches and an assortment of non-profits. More than three hundred volunteers work at the center. This is an indication of the strong local support that has made the Clearinghouse so effective.
A strong local economy is one of the keys to sustainability. And that requires a strong, well-trained workforce. The Clearinghouse and River Valley Resources has worked hard to strengthen, support and encourage the workforce.