Connecting Careers and Community at Sabathani
Diving into the heart of Sabathani Community Center’s mission to build a thriving community, we shine a light on one of our core programs, Workforce Strategies, a resource for those who are looking for livable-wage careers. We also shine a light on the new staff member and the upcoming event that are defining Workforce Strategies today.
From Northside to Southside: Maria’s Journey
Meet Maria Sorensen, the Career Coordinator at Sabathani Community Center. Though Maria grew up in North Minneapolis, she recalls her childhood days spent at Sabathani Community Center on the southside. She remembers it as a hub of bustling activity, offering talent shows, basketball events, church activities, and lots more. For Maria, it was also a sanctuary for youth, a safe place where she could explore her interests and connect with others.
“I remember taking the number 5 bus to get here,” Maria reminisces. “My aunt and uncle were pastors at a 38th street church, so we were often in this area.”
Growing up in Minneapolis, Maria cherished the opportunities that community centers provided. Experiences like witnessing the Harlem Boys Choir and the Shrine Circus were opportunities made accessible through community centers, opportunities that were often out of reach due to economic constraints.
“Community centers kept us off the streets. I didn’t think about it like that then, but looking back, that’s what it was,” Maria recalls.
But as time went on, funding for such vital community spaces diminished, causing many to fade away, which in turn impacted the community’s youth.
Maria’s career journey started in the realm of IT, and she eventually merged that expertise with her passion for community outreach. Working for another local community center and in public education, she was teaching essential computer skills, offering Microsoft certification training, and even introducing coding and gaming to youth.
A Return to Sabathani and a Shared Vision
Maria found herself drawn back to Sabathani, which had begun building back after the pandemic and under new leadership. CEO Redd and CFO Duncan shared a vision for the center’s future with renewed and expanded Sabathani programming, which excited Maria; she joined the team in August of 2023.
In her role as the Career Coordinator, Maria has a mission that the Workforce Strategies program helps build health and wealth within the community. It’s beyond just securing jobs – the goal is to secure jobs that provide livable wages, promoting mental and physical well-being. The focus is on diverse opportunities, be it training or direct entry into careers.
The programs’ services span a wide spectrum. To begin, Maria assesses individuals’ skills and desires to find job opportunities that match their aspirations. She also shows participants that their past experiences hold value, even if they are embarking on a new path.
It’s also about understanding how personal challenges can be addressed. “Language barriers, wellness issues, criminal backgrounds – these are just some of the barriers we can assist with,” Maria explains. Along the way, Maria is helping with resume building, interview coaching, making connections with the companies that are hiring, and organizing job recruitment fairs.
Sabathani Energy Day: Brimming with Opportunities
One of those recruitment fairs is Sabathani Energy Day, scheduled for Saturday, September 9 in the Sabathani parking lot. This career resource fair and community celebration is a true community collaboration, born from the pursuit of livable wage jobs for our community members.
It began in a partnership with Xcel Energy for their Annual Day of Service and has grown to encompass various job seekers’ needs, as well as serving the broader community.
Listening to the community’s aspirations, Maria and the planning committee developed an event that could serve as a platform for meaningful connections to training and career opportunities, with participating exhibitors including Metro Transit, Union Pacific Railroad, the United States Postal Service, and more. Click here to view the complete list.
In addition to being a meaningful career resource fair, it will also be a festive community gathering, featuring DJ, food truck, and various community resources, including tablet giveaway, MNsure insurance navigation, and energy assistance information.
How to Get Involved
Workforce Strategies is available as a free resource for everyone in our community. Here are a few ways to get involved:
- Open office hours with Career Coordinator Maria Sorensen provide a chance to connect one-on-one with no appointment necessary. Current open office hours are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 1 to 3pm in the Workforce Strategies Room, in Suite 120.
- The Workforce Strategies page is a resource hub to explore diverse opportunities. Visit the page now and fill out the interest form. Maria will follow up with you about the next steps on your journey to a fulfilling career.
- Mark your calendar to join us for Sabathani Energy Day for September 9 from 11am to 3pm in the Sabathani parking lot. Register in advance for exclusive career resources and a chance to score a complimentary meal from the food truck. Click here to learn more and sign up today.