Work Experience and Success Program

YIELD, INC. is a Great Plains’ sponsored workforce development program designed to offer adults, without recent work experience or success in the workplace, an opportunity to learn skills needed by all employees and gain a recent verifiable work history. Students participate in a 16-week program that combines classroom learning, counseling services, support services, and paid employment. Student employees provide products and services for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.


In 1996 President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. In 1997 the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program was created replacing the Aid to Families, with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. In 1998 the Yield Program was started by Great Pains Technology Center with a grant from The Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments (ASCOG) to be a Welfare to Work Program. The Yield Program presently exists as a self funded non profit organization. At the start there were 5,000 TANF clients in the city of Lawton. At last account there were less than 5'000 TANF clients in the entire state of Oklahoma. Presently the Yield Program serves an expanded and mixed population.


The Yield program currently has a contract that provides the work experience and the funding for the program. Yield contracts with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company to recycle rubber. That project operates out of a building across the street from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company at 920 Good­year Boulevard. The facility houses five winding machines that separate rubber from a poly backing. All components are returned for recycling, thereby helping Goodyear in their quest to be green and environmentally friendly.


The Yield Program had much success with the T ANF client population. With dwindling client populations the program needed to expand its referral sources. The program worked with a variety of client types mixing TANF, battered women's shelter, homeless, street walk-ins, probation and parole, half way houses and others. Over the course of time relationships were developed with local halfway houses such as New Pathways, Helen Holiday Home, and Miller Manor. Halfway houses have become the primary and most reliable source of clients ready and willing to do the work required to overcome barriers. The Program remains open to all sources of peoples seeking assistance in overcoming barriers to successful employment. Interviews are done each Wednesday. With a limited amount of space applications are reviewed and entries to the program are taken based on the appropriate match of the individual needs and the programs resources and abilities to meet these needs. Optimal success exists when working with like populations such as recovering addicts living in the supportive environments of halfway houses.


The Yield Program takes a holistic approach to building people. The primary goal of the program is building people. The Yield program provides a supportive environment which fosters improvement and growth. We strive to build and strengthen the whole person. Work therapy builds confidence and self esteem. It also hclps a person's body get conditioned for full days of work. Recovery from addiction is supported and encouraged by relapse prevention groups and required attendance to self help groups such as AA or NA. The program has a state Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor and Licensed Employee Assistance Counselor. When needed clients are referred to Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) or Licensed Professional Counselors (L PC). Studcnt/Workers are encouraged to work on personal issues thus becoming better employees. Many have been successful and just need a chance to regroup. Some have vast potential but have never been in an environment that encourages taking on new challenges. The Yield Program allows for much flexibility in meeting each students needs.


In addition to temporary employment in an industrial setting student workers at the Yield program receive coaching and instruction in job seeking skills such as resume, job search, job application, interview, and follow-up/call back. Also, student workers are reinforced in work skills such as attendance, punctuality, communication, productivity, attitude, and team work are reinforced. The Yield Program provides safety training such as powered industrial truck, hazardous communication, blood borne pathogens, first aid, CPR, personal protective equipment, eye and hearing safety, respiratory protection, ergonomics, lock out tag out, emergency preparedness, and accident prevention and investigation. Those who have and presented an interest and have an aptitude for vocational or collegiate education are assisted in exploring options. Many have taken vocational classes and gone on to find employment in their area of training. Many have taken college classes at Cameron University while in the program.


The end result is productive members of society. People making differences in the places they employ. Better success for companies by having more productive employees. Those who stay in the program to completion are more likely to retain employment. Employed people are taxpayers providing money to government and not taking from. Many of those who are in recovery go on tn help others in their recovery. Those with families provide stability insuring better chances for their children. Mostly people who complete the program arc living quality lives and enjoying the "American Dream" we all cherish so deeply.


Michelle Polynice