There are places in Alaska that JVSWorks would like to visit. Larsen Bay – population around 100 – had not been on that list. No disrespect intended. Larsen Bay is situated up about 60 miles southwest of Kodiak and, unless wildlife viewing, birding and fishing is your bag, it doesn’t seem like there’s much to do in that probably quite beautiful part of the world. (JVSWorks is a proud and professed metropolitan city clicker). Based on recent events, however, JVSWorks would now very much like to check the place out in order to get a first-hand glimpse of some of that fantastic scenery, find a place where they know how to cook up some salmon (which probably isn’t difficult to find) and meet some of the JVS clients from the General Relief Opportunities for Work (GROW) in Lancaster.
Make that the employed GROW workers who, given how seriously they’re taking their work cutting up salmon for Icicle Seafoods, might not have that much leisure time to spare.
GROW job developer Karla Ojeda and supervisor Edwin Rivas and forged a partnership that brought representatives of Seattle-based Icicle Seafoods down to Lancaster to recruit workers for the salmon season. The recruitment took place in late June with 200 potential workers interviewed and about 50 hired. The new workers quickly boarded a bus for Seattle, had their applications and drug tests processed and were put on boats bound for Larsen Bay to meet up with fishing and processing boats. Subsequently, GROW sent some additional workers from Lancaster up to work in Icicle Seafoods processing plants. For the month of June, that boosted the GROW’s placement percentage at 43%
Because of circumstances in their lives, these are clients who have experienced considerable difficulty finding work locally in the Antelope Valley. Many have had run-ins with the law and now have prison records. Others have struggled with past addictions. Several were homeless. Nonetheless, the recruiters from Icicle Seafoods recognized in them solid potential workers.
“It’s a great opportunity for them,” said Rivas. “Their room and board is paid for. Basically, all they have to do is work and they can save their paychecks. Some have decided to move up there and start a new life.”
The work is demanding, concedes Icicle Seafoods HR Manager Anne Marie Todd. When they packed for the trip, the new employees were told to bring 21 pairs of socks because they might need to change them three times per shift.
But as many of us know, nothing trumps a steady paycheck, particularly when you haven’t seen one in awhile.
“Some of those people got tears in their eyes when we offered them work,” said Todd. “This is an opportunity for them to get some money together and start things over.”