ReEmployAbility, Inc. supports not-for-profits around the country by providing volunteers through our Transition2Work® program, helping injured workers heal through meaningful work. ReEmployAbility has maintained strong partnerships with hundreds of Not-for-Profit organizations, and this month the company would like to spotlight HHPLIFT, founded in 2007.

HHPLIFT is an award-winning, nonprofit social enterprise with a mission to forge economic independence through workforce and business opportunities for people overcoming barriers to fair wage employment. Locally, this is done through the LIFT™ Program, their Career Development Program, where associates from various workforce development programs in the Chicagoland area, such as ReEmployAbility’sTransition2Work® and HHPLIFT‘s 1eleven® Leadership and Career Development Program , are onboarded to the LIFT™ Workshop. Through the production of their LIFT™ & ecoLIFT™ lines, and their work in order fulfillment, they gain critical career development skills, leadership training, and mentorship, and participate in educational workshops, allowing for lasting transformations for them and their families.

In a recent interview with Director of the LIFT™ Program Ava Berry, Social Impact Specialist Marlee Nork, and Manager of the LIFT™ Program Alejandra Camargo, to get to know the organization better and what they do for their community. Here’s what they had to say:

What are your organization’s goals for the community you serve?

We offer opportunities for our volunteers who work in our program to develop skills that we hope can benefit them in their day-to-day lives. One goal we strive for, is to ensure that all of our participants feel useful because we do count on everyone to be a part of a team environment. Everyone wants to feel like they have something to bring to the table and we encourage everyone to express new and creative ideas, some that we still use to this day.

For people who do come through our 1eleven® Leadership and Career Development Program, or through ReEmployAbility’s Transition2Work® Program, they may come into the organization feeling depressed or lonely from their situation, because of their injuries and inability to work to their full capacity. Our goal is to bring purpose back to those people’s lives by instilling ways to improve overall health and wellness.

Briefly describe a recent accomplishment HHPLIFT has achieved.

During our fourth quarter of this year we received a lot of big order requests from our Shop. Our whole team, from every department, and our amazing volunteers pitched in to complete these orders. Over all, HHPLIFT hand-made at least 10,000 candles and our organization is very proud of how everyone came together as a team to make this happen.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a lot of changes have been made. We began the expansion of our workshop this year, but this didn’t stop people from volunteering and helping the organization. Before we expanded our workshop, we were all working in the same office. Now that our workshop has its own space, this has opened a lot of opportunities to the program. We’ve adhered to our states COVID-19 restrictions and have encouraged everyone to get vaccinated. Since we are considered an essential workplace, we were fortunate enough to remain open.

How has your experience been with ReEmployAbility’s Transition2Work Program participants?

Remaining open allowed HHPLIFT to add more people to our team from ReEmployAbility’s Transition2Work® Return-to-Work Program. We went from 3 to 4 Injured Workers to at least 5. Having more people on site to accomplish those big orders in a time of crisis allowed us to see it as an opportunity to take on those challenges.

We are all very understanding of the Injured Workers’ needs and values. Our coordinator will put an Injured Worker in charge of a project to help them help themselves, and to develop leadership qualities that we hope allows them to thrive as a person. When someone leaves our Not-for-Profit, we hope that they were able to take those skills back with them. HHPLIFT encourages everyone to make suggestions and to offer new ideas. All the Injured Workers that we receive are a very integral part to the society and flow of the organization.

What is the most important message that you would like to relay to the readers about your organization?

A lot of people don’t get to see what happens at the workshop. It isn’t an easy task to have workforce participants with such different backgrounds and employments. The way everyone is working together so cohesively, and getting to see everyone working as a team, is important to us. We value each individual and the way our programs make an impact in their lives. We want to make sure that the reader knows that the partnership with ReEmployAbility makes a difference for each person that goes through the program.

What should readers look forward to in the upcoming year from HHPLIFT?

HHPLIFT has just wrapped up with our Holiday Silent Market Auction, which consisted of donations from local businesses. The event went very well and the money that was raised went to sustaining the organization. The donation money that we received was very useful in buying more materials to create our products, to buy products from our artisans abroad, and for the expansion of our workshop that enabled our program to grow. We loved that people were able to make their donations, and it was nice that we were able to prepare and organize this event. With all of the COVID-19 restrictions, we had to adjust and plan some things online.

Next year, people should look forward to the onboarding of Honey Bun’s new scent. Various volunteers from our LIFT™ Workshop were able to take a field trip to Growing Home where we take the honey that they produce to create candles.

Click the link if you’d like to learn more about HHPLIFT and what they do for their community.