Worker shortages hit home for some local nonprofits

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Local nonprofits help those in need, but some nonprofit leaders in Central Illinois said they’re in need of help too.

“So we are having a difficult time, like so many people, hiring staff right now,” said Stephanie Alkhafaji, Chief Operating Officer at the Children’s Home in Peoria.

The Children’s Home is just one local nonprofit feeling the effects of the worker shortage. Alkhafaji said they not only lack applicants but in some cases, qualified applicants.

“What makes it especially difficult for us is the broad array of staff that we need. So the children’s home has over 50 programs, which means we need a lot of diverse staff to support those,” she said.

She said they are in critical need of residential counselors.

“It’s more of an issue for us because, at the end of the day, we’re not just selling widgets, we’re providing really quality and really critical services to some of the kids in our community who need them most,” Alkhafaji said. “And when we don’t fulfill that need, it has a dramatic impact on the rest of our community, on the rest of our wellbeing.”

She said it can have a generational effect.

“A dip in sales would not be good for any organization, but that’s not what we’re talking about here,” she said. “We’re really talking about the livelihoods of some of these children that we serve. It’s a dramatic impact. And not just to them, there are ripple effects that will be felt throughout our community if these kids don’t receive the services they need, and we take that very seriously.”

Another nonprofit struggling to hire staff is EP!C in Peoria, which serves people living with disabilities.

“Even before the pandemic, we were hosting in-person job fairs every other month because there was a national caregiver crisis,” said Ashley Schreck, Director of Marketing for EP!C.

Schreck said the workers they do have are spread thin.

“Having to have people live in a house for a week or three days at a time is how we have to stretch our staff to actually full the schedule for 24 hours in the day,” she said.

But both nonprofits are continuing to operate and recruit staff. The Children’s Home recently bumped up their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Alkhafaji said it’s the first step in ensuring all staff gets fair pay. She also said they are offering sign-on bonuses and retention bonuses.

“It’s very, very rewarding to make a direct impact on a child’s life,” she said.

Schreck at EP!C said nonprofits are a viable source for a career, and she said EP!C can provide a professional wage at a fulfilling place to work.

“You don’t work for a nonprofit for the money, you work it for the mission, and what you can contribute to society,” she said.

To learn more about Children’s Home careers, click here. To learn more about EP!C careers, click here.

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