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Lavaunte has always been passionate about auto technology. Without the proper training, that passion unfortunately couldn’t translate into income. He needed more education, but as the youngest of five, no one in his family had ever had the option of attending college — until now.

Lavaunte was among a group of six participants who participated in Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas’ St. Rita pilot program. Launched in the fall of 2017, it’s designed to remove barriers which keep people from the education needed to obtain livable wages. These barriers aren’t just financial. They include child care and lack of transportation.

The program is housed in Wyandotte County, where the Economic Development Council has reported that there are more than 1,400 unfilled skilled labor jobs paying $40,000+ per year. St. Rita works with Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Technical Education Center, assisting with enrollment. In addition, the participants must commit to attending sessions offered by St. Rita including intensive financial education classes. Professional skills training for job seeking, job retention and job success including full resume and application service, interview coaching and principles of successful work behavior are also part of the dynamic curriculum.

Throughout the year, ongoing case management services are provided to students to assist and support their goals. Also, they receive help with food, clothing, rent or utilities and other resources through Catholic Charities’ Emergency
Assistance programs.

The future looks much brighter for Lavaunte, who graduated with academic honors in Auto Tech. He is now gainfully employed by a company supportive of him obtaining his Diesel Technician certification.

To learn more about the programs and services of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, visit: catholiccharitiesks.org

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