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The Employment Support Center is a 501(c) (3) non-proﬁt organization founded in April 1984 by Ellie Wegener, a journalist who previously launched the highly successful Neighborhood Watch Program.
The Employment Support Center ("ESC") trains community leaders to establish and run self-help support groups for the unemployed and the under-employed. The ESC approach is unique: help the unemployed help each other, by bringing them together to swap job leads and contacts (not applicable to themselves), and to provide mutual support during what is likely to be one of the most stressful pursuits in a person's life: looking for a job.
The job-swapping process increases the efﬁciency of the job-hunting process for everyone in a group, and when successful, not only gives the new job-holder cause for celebration, it provides a real boost in self-esteem for the person providing the successful lead. Since ESC's creation, numerous employment support group members have reported finding a new job thanks to a lead provided by a fellow group member.
In contrast to private employment agencies responsible to employers, the ESC groups and their facilitators are responsible solely to the group members. Participants are free to "let their hair down" and discuss their plans, hopes and fears with others in the same boat. This environment helps job-seekers regain and maintain their self-esteem at a time when they're likely to experience a great deal of rejection and self-doubt.
In addition to providing mutual support for job seekers, the ESC group meetings regularly feature speakers who help members hone their practical job search skills: resume writing; networking; accessing the hidden job market; and interviewing. If needed, ESC groups can get training on using the Internet as a job search tool.
The groups are kept small so that each member's opportunities for participation are maximized. When a group regularly draws more than 15 participants, an attempt is made to start a new group.
ESC has benefited throughout its history from the work of many committed volunteers. Volunteers have served as ESC group facilitators, publicity ofﬁcers, board members, job liaisons, speakers; office assistants; researchers, statisticians, bookkeepers, and fundraisers.