Jefferson Residents Visited by Journey

Project Self-Sufficiency’s (PSS) Journey van made its first stop in Jefferson on Wednesday, April 11, parked near the library off Weldon Road. Kathleen McNamara, volunteer coordinator for PSS, and another employee, Samantha Rigatti, staffed the van on its maiden voyage.

McNamara was thrilled with the reception Journey got in Jefferson, saying township administrator James Leach, police chief William Craig, and library director Seth Stephens all came to greet them. Jefferson was the van’s third stop. McNamara said they received a similar greeting at Montague and Hamburg during the first two days of Journey’s visits.

“The core of our mission is employability,” McNamara explained. Within the next few days, new laptops will be installed along a counter in the van to help people entering the workforce with their computer skills.

Sam and Kathleen: Samantha Rigatti and Kathleen McNamara at the computer desk in Journey. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Some need basic skills such as the Microsoft Office Suite, which is part of the lesson, McNamara told The Jefferson Chronicle. Even those with some computer skills may need to learn to present themselves professionally on the computer. Because people are accustomed to personal communications, they may not be comfortable using business language.

Many also require help with resumes. Women who have been out of the workforce need to realize they have important skills gained during volunteer work, for example. “Being a Girl Scout leader teaches organizational skills,” McNamara pointed out.

PSS has a wardrobe for people to wear on job interviews. McNamara said it is possible to bring four or so outfits on Journey for people to try on. There are 35 employers looking to hire in the region, she noted. Certain career tracks have numerous openings, such as pet care.

Journey also carries emergency supplies for clients, including food and diapers.

Jefferson and Netcong are the two Morris County municipalities served by Project Self-Sufficiency. Part of the reason is geography, according to McNamara, because they are close to PSS headquarters in Newton (Sussex County). The other is poverty statistics; both communities are less affluent than much of Morris.

McNamara is very impressed with Jefferson. “The food pantry, nursing and health services, and recreation are wonderful,” she said. “We hope to complement the services.” She stated that the needs of her constituent communities are similar, but the response can be very different.

The staff works with the clergy, library employees, social workers, nurses, and others who are out in the community. PSS provides counseling and training and works closely with other groups that offer substance abuse services, since many clients have overlapping issues.

Journey is committed to parking at the library for now, but may stop at other sites, McNamara said.

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