Many people think of Labor Day as just a day off work and maybe a chance to say goodbye to summer. But for over a hundred years, Labor Day has been set aside to pay tribute to working men and women. It has been officially celebrated in the United States since 1894 when President Grover Cleveland and the US Congress declared the first Monday in September a national holiday.
In honor of Labor Day, I would like to recognize all of the hard-working people of Waynedale, and I would like to tell you about a program at the Wayne Township Trustee Office where Township Assistance recipients work to give back to the community.
Back in the mid-1800s, able-bodied persons who received Township Assistance were required to work in the community to give something back. Assistance recipients chopped firewood and worked in the farms and gardens for those unable to do these tasks themselves.
Through giving back to the community, persons receiving assistance were able to accept financial help while maintaining their dignity. This same spirit still exists today at the Wayne Township Trustee’s Office.
Today’s Wayne Township clients must become involved in our Workfare program if they are not otherwise employed and are able to work. Through that program, the clients are assigned “workdays,” when they work at various non-profit or governmental agencies. The number of “workdays” assigned to each client depends on the amount of Township Assistance they are receiving.
The Workfare clients provide a variety of services for those agencies. Some of them work in the Wayne Township office, assisting with cleaning, lawn care and other projects that need to be done around our office.
If a client is eligible for Workfare and does not complete the program, that client risks losing his or her Township Assistance. When clients begin with the Workfare program, those clients must go through orientation. At orientation, the clients learn about appropriate dress and conduct when going out on a job.
The Workfare program benefits both the clients and the agencies for which they are working. The agencies get extra help at no cost to them, and the clients learn skills that translate into the client obtaining employment. Some clients have even gotten jobs at agencies where they have been working through Workfare.
This year, as we have done for the past several years, the Wayne Township Trustee Office will have a booth at the annual Labor Day Picnic held at Headwaters Park on September 3rd from 11:00am to 3:00pm. This is a free event for all laborers, their families and their friends. Not only is admission free but so is the food, beverages, games and entertainment (musicians from the Fort Wayne Philharmonic play jazz and other musical fare there). A real gift to the community sponsored by our local labor unions. I hope to see you there.
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