Salvation Army opens new Job Readiness Laboratory

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Derrick Phillips showed up at the Salvation Army about three weeks ago with almost nothing.

"I went to a rehab facility before coming here and I still lost everything that I've ever owned, my family included. I've got two small children. I've been sober now going on six months," said Phillips.

He's lucky - Derrick landed a part-time job almost right away, but he wants something permanent that pays more. He's had to go door-to-door, because getting online to search for work was impossible.

"I don't have a Knoxville ID, so I can't get a library card and use their computers down there. I didn't have anywhere else to go that I could put in online applications," said Phillips.

But now he does. The Salvation Army opened its "Job Readiness Laboratory" Tuesday, with eight computers to help people apply for jobs, update their resumes and further their education.

"We've have a steady stream of people coming through this morning. They've interviewed with our counselors, they've been online and we've really had a good response," said Sergeant Joseph May, with the Salvation Army.

Trent Anderson has already pitched several jobs:

"I just think today is a lot of online applications. There's a lot of sites that tell me who is hiring, so I can just narrow it down. I don't have to spend time going to places that aren't hiring," said Anderson.

The Salvation Army said once more funding becomes available, it plans to offer GED training in the lab, too.

The Salvation Army's computer lab is part of its job assistance program, which started back in 2009. In the past four years, about 800 people have gone through the program. The Salvation Army said half of them got jobs.

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