We welcome Eric Ward to Poverty’s Edge.  Eric is the Family Resource Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA at the Sixth Street Shelter. He graduated from Kutztown University in May of ’10 with a bachelor’s in Psychology. He has provided assistance to the parents and children at the shelter by offering classes and workshops as well as assisting with making resumes, applying for jobs, and searching for apartments.  Thanks for contributing!

I remember, very briefly, when I was in high school, looking for a summer job.  You could very easily walk into a store and fill out a paper application right there.  Times have changed.

The majority of businesses have phased out paper applications, citing either convenience or green initiatives for the reason. These are good excuses, to be sure, as everyone cares about the environment and values the option to fill out a job application without having to get dressed up and leave the house.  But suppose you don’t have a computer or internet access? Suppose you don’t even have a home to leave?

And what about trying to find a place to live? Fewer and fewer people are subscribing to a newspaper, which means fewer and fewer employers are placing classified ads.

With the drastic shift away from paper applications, people who are willing to work are often left out in the cold in more ways than one. Like it or not, we’re all plugged in for good.  However, those who were struggling to keep up before are now firmly left behind.  I’m sure we’ve all experienced a few hours when the internet went down and how cut off we’ve felt for those few brief hours, but imagine weeks or months without internet access.

We at the Sixth Street Shelter are ecstatic to offer computer use and internet access to our residents in our new Family Resource Center, made possible by community donations and volunteers. Something as simple and commonplace as checking emails, applying for a job online, looking for apartments, printing out a typed résumé, or being able to sign up for school over the computer has given our residents opportunities that they never had before.