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Urban Dreams Provides Food and Employment Services to Residents in Need

Urban Dreams Provides Food and Employment Services to Residents in Need

April 12, 2021

Urban Dreams and the City of Cedar Rapids are elated to announce a new community food pantry opening on Thursday, April 15, 2021 at Urban Dream’s Ladd Library location, 3750 Williams Blvd SW. The food pantry will be open regularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m. to serve those in need throughout Cedar Rapids and Linn County. The food pantry was established in collaboration with HACAP, and provides dry/non-perishable goods and refrigerated items.

“This food pantry will serve an important need for our clients, and many others who utilize the Ladd library,” said Elizabeth Buch, Urban Dreams Workforce Coordinator. “We partner with a number of non-profits in the Cedar Rapids area and have found through exploring services that the food pantry is located in a perfect location to compliment and expand existing services that address food insecurity.”

The City of Cedar Rapids partnership with Urban Dreams continues to grow and benefit Cedar Rapids residents. The Cedar Rapids Urban Dreams program works with individuals who have had barriers to success, including high school dropouts or at-risk youth, individuals lacking career guidance or understanding of career opportunities, those with prior criminal records, and those under or unemployed. Through mentoring and career guidance, the program creates a connection between individuals in need of employment and businesses looking for employees.

"I appreciate Urban Dreams' compassion and determination in trying to get me the right job,” said Urban Dreams Client and ImOn Communications new employee, Deanjelo.  “Their communication is awesome as well. I knew about updates and where the company was at in the hiring process. The effort Mrs. Elizabeth showed let me know that they believed in me and for that I am very grateful. I would recommend Urban Dreams to anyone who is seriously interested in a career."

To date, Urban Dreams staff has met with 27 interested area employers to establish candidate referral programs, including Travero, Raining Rose, ImOn Communications and Hy-Vee. Participating employers work directly with Urban Dream staff to incorporate inclusion based hiring strategies, career guidance for participants, and ongoing progress reporting.

“One of the things we hear most often from employers is their struggle to hire enough qualified employees,” said Jasmine Almoayyed, Cedar Rapids Economic Development Manager. “By providing connections, career services, and mentoring, the Urban Dreams program is helping provide employment for many who might just need a little help, while also filling a vital need for area employers.”

Since establishing a location within the Ladd Library in July 2020, the Urban Dreams team is working to establish themselves in the community through a number of community outreach efforts. After the 2020 Derecho, Urban Dreams leveraged relationships with their existing partners, Hy-Vee and Atlantic Bottling Company, to help the City establish the first meal site at the 1st Avenue Hy-Vee and secure donations of shelf stable milk and beverages. The team also coordinated with Hy-Vee to provide a Thanksgiving Meal Giveaway at Ladd Library.

“These community outreach programs are vitally important to help us build authentic connections and establish trust with residents,” said Izaah Knox, Urban Dreams Executive Director. “Our number one goal is to help with workforce needs, but I’ve found the best way to do that is by becoming a committed part of the community. Cedar Rapids has welcomed us with open arms, and we are looking forward to many years of service to this community.”

More information about upcoming events, including job fairs, a community car check-up, an Expungement Clinic with Iowa Legal Aid, and more, will be posted on the Urban Dream social media sites and at urbandreams.org/event-calendar.

Urban Dreams (UD) is an inner-city non-profit that provides substance abuse, mental health, job training and placement, inmate reentry services, community engagement, education, and community advocacy for people of color and low-income individuals and families. Follow online at urbandreams.org and facebook.com/urbandreamsorg.

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