Peer Workforce Navigator

 

In February 2022, Maine AFL-CIO won a grant from the Maine Department of Labor to create a Peer Workforce Navigator program, resulting from a 2021 law put forth by the Coalition to improve the unemployment (UI) system. Maine AFL-CIO sub-granted to FAM (and three other organizations:  Maine Equal Justice, Prosperity Maine and Gateway Community Services) to hire a Navigator for the two year duration of the pilot program.

Currently, only 1 of 4 eligible Maine people receive unemployment benefits (!). The primary focus of the program is to improve the recipiency rate, and to guide workers to new jobs (especially union jobs), education and other resources.

Suzy Young has done this work on a volunteer basis since 2020, after joining a Facebook group for unemployment (UI) support, she quickly became the group's go-to resource for UI questions. The Maine AFL-CIO hired Suzy in May 2021 to work part time on UI support and to participate in the Coalition, and awarded Suzy their 2021 President's Award for her tireless efforts and tremendous impact on the people she assists. FAM hired Suzy part time in fall 2021 to support Solidarity Harvest, and we're thrilled to be able to keep her on full time as the Peer Workforce Navigator.

Having one of the Navigators is a natural fit for FAM, having been founded in 2002 on support for laid off mill workers. We plan to expand our Navigator program to include a number of Volunteer Navigators and will share more about that soon. There are also plans in the works for even more support for Maine's workers, so stay tuned for that too!

People needing assistance with the Unemployment Process, or other resources resulting from being unemployed or under employed, can reach Suzy at Suzy@foodandmedicine.org, or directly at 207-505-6436.