Thousands of Minnesotans are struggling on the margins of the economy, and some of their greatest allies are organizations like Resource Inc.
The organization’s recently appointed president, Kelly Matter, has a clear line of sight on the battles being fought by the jobless, and those suffering from mental illness or drug addiction.
Matter took the job in November, coming from CommonBond Communities, where she was a vice president. Before that she was a VP at Goodwill/Easter Seals. She took over for Debbie Atterberry, who had been president since 2004 and resigned to become a nonprofit consultant.
Resource helped more than 19,000 people in Minnesota in 2012, with everything from training and help finding a new job to housing and mental health treatment. The organization’s annual budget in 2011 was $24.8 million, some $17.4 million of which came from government contracts.
Resource just won a contract to administer a program in Stearns and Benton counties to help people get off public assistance and start working, and Matter plans to launch a capital campaign to update the organization’s buildings.
Q: What attracted you to this position?
A: I have always known Resource employees to be innovative, creative, responsive to community needs and also just good at getting it done. All of us in the nonprofit world have our list of organizations that we would like to work for, and Resource was always on my list.
Q: Why is this work important?
A: It’s about our economy, and making sure that everyone can be a part of our economy, can have a quality of life, can contribute. Everyone wants to contribute.
Q: If the work isn’t done, what happens?
A: More people are homeless, more people aren’t recovering from chemical addiction, mental health. They’re in our prisons instead of in our workforce.
Q: What do you see as the economic landscape today?
A: Is it taking people longer to find jobs now than it was in the past? Yes. Are some of our dislocated workers having to take jobs at lower wages than they were earning previously? Yes. … There’s a large number of low-skilled workers, and the emphasis right now is the impending skills gap, and we are a part of addressing that. If the low-skilled workers are remaining at the bottom of the workforce, it doesn’t create openings for youth and other low-skilled workers.
Q: Resource has a lot of different programs. How do they work together?
A: A person might come to us because they’re looking for a job, but they also have access to a whole continuum of services. We get public funding for most of what we do, and with that comes a lot of requirements and paperwork, but how do we make sure that we excel and exceed that, and also connect them with what they need? For instance, many times people aren’t able to work because of mental health and other issues with their children. Their issues are really related to their children’s health issues, so we did just get a new grant to help expand a program to do preventive services for their children. How do we help the whole family?
Q: Why should people concerned about the economy care about Resource’s work on mental illness and drug addiction?
A: It’s really about improving all of our quality of life in the Twin Cities metro region, and being able to attract businesses to the region. Keeping families together, preventing kids from going into foster care. The other thing that happens when women and children can’t be in treatment together is that women don’t get treatment. So then they become homeless, or they go to prison. ... And then their kids aren’t being successful in school. Right now, women are getting 24/7 support. Is it an expensive model? In the short-run it’s expensive. In the long-run, it’s a 7-to-1 investment.
Q: How do people who need help get in touch with Resource?
A: They can call (612) 752-8400 for employment services, or visit our website at www.resource-mn.org.