Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

October 28, 1979 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-10-28
This is a tabloid page

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Page 4-Sunday, October 28, 1979-The Michigan Daily

The Michigan Daily-Sunday, 0

Taking Detroit's underprivileged from st

reets to payche

IT'S NOT EASY to leave the street ,corner,
break a dependence on government financial
support, and accept the daily responsibilities
which accompany a paycheck. To pad the
thorny, path to permanent employment, the
Greater Opportunities Industrialization Center of
Metropolitan Detroit provides a link between jobs
and the people who need them. The organization,
familiar to many as GOIC, takes the unemployed
and the underemployed and arms them with the
personal, realistic training needed to compete in the
working world.
Although the staff at GOIC sees close to 1,200
people a year, not many in-the Detroit metropolitan
area even know the organization exists. GOIC,
which receives 90 per cent of its $5.5 million budget
through the Comprehensive Employment Training
Act (CETA) and 10 per cent through private
organizations, does not spend money on advertising
campaigns or recruiting efforts. GOIC's low profile
is derived from its unique philosophy. "If you're
sincere about folk, you don't have to toot your
horn," says Randall Ephriam, director of GOIC's
finance department, and himself a graduate of the
training program. Ephriam's story illustrates the
GOIC staff's sincerity about its clients.
Randall Ephriam worked at the Ford Rouge plant
for six years. He didn't like working in a factory.
"The majority of the people there work for 30 or 40
years and retire, and then you'd hear they'd died. I
couldn't see working all my life to die when I
He had technical experience in electronics from
Cass Tech High School, "but I didn't know what 1
wanted to do. I knew it had to be different from the
streets. I was dealing weed, running an after-hours
joint, and gambling. Fortunately, I never went to a
penitentiary. I was lucky not to be there when the
chips were down." Despite strong aspirations to be.
an accountant, Randall had never considered going
to college.
Like Ephriam, John Rouse knew only the Detroit
street life. He dropped out of high school thinking,
"Forget everything. I don't need no high school
diploma. I'm gonna do what I want." His mother
died when he was quite young, and her death robbed
John's life of stability. "She kept us in school and
told us that's what we need to get over in life, and to
respect other people," he recalls. With his mother
gone and no compulsion to attend school, John tur-
ned to stealing and drugs.
Eventually he gained welding skills from the
Judy Rakowsky is the Daily city editor.

By Judy Rakowsky

Chrysler Institute, which he attended for only tw
weeks. He reached more dead ends and resorted t
Job Corps for further trade preparation. John live
at the facility with other Job Corps trainees
"That's where I got into the' gang banging
Everybody wanted to be gangsters and get a bi
head," John remembers. The long-term resident
"looked at it like a jail." He left after two-and-a-ha
weeks, dissatisfied with "a lot of rude people wh
were just doing their job."
Such dismal memories seem as distant a
childhood to these men now. Once they made it t
GOIC, their views of themselves and their live
changed drastically.
"GOIC puts you in that mood of wanting to d
something to better your life," John says, now tha
he has passed the Graduate Equivalency Diplom
test with GOIC's help. He pursued another GOI
program and has acquired clerical skills.
Randall Ephriam sharpened his electronics skill
and came to work for.GOIC as a custodian. His a
counting aspirations were revived when he move
in as the purchaser's aide, and he began *thinkin
seriously about going to college. At the same tim
he became involved in creating GOIC's trainee
council. Randall wrote the guidelines for this body
which has a voice and a vote on the organization'
Board of Directors. The trainees council also ha
the power to bring GOIC to its knees, according t
Randall. "Their (trainees') power is so great that'
they walked out, we might not have any jobs. Ou
purpose is to serve them."
Now Randall is a developer in the Finance Depar
tment and he sits on the board of the alumn
association. He's a senior at Shaw College i
Detroit, majoring in accounting.
GOIC is not just a tutoring or vocational center.]V
employs a self-help concept for people who ar
dependent on -government stipends to survive. N
GOIC clients subsist on incomes above $3,000. Th
idea is to wean individuals off the welfare rolls an
onto the payrolls. Members of the GOIC staf
recognize the ego-crippling impact of poverty an
dependence, so they work to restore their clients
self-esteem and independence. Concern for the in
dividual - "Everybody is somebody" - is a prin
cipal tenet of the organization.
GOIC Employment Development Specialis


Clarence Williams says encouraging independence
sometimes means "I have to get mean with social
workers." Government hand-outs help the needy
only temporarily, Williams explains, but "if you
train them for a job, that's a real gift. If you give
people jobs,they don't need social services."
The single mandatory prerequisite for joining the
GOIC staff is some -experience with or exposure to
poverty. GOIC Executive Director Jim Brewer says

six months later with their chest or breast sticking
out, their head high and they go out and try to get a
job. They're scared, and if they get it, they come
back and say 'Thank you'."
Randall Ephraim explains that GOIC instructors
are willing to take extra time to help people. "Like I
took time out of my lunch hours to help a young lady
who failed part of her GED. She took it again and
passed with flying colors.

'You feel proud
of helping that per-

son to
they 're

get where


you help
body, it's


than any dollar or
cent you could
-GOIC Director
Jim Brewer

familiarity with poverty increases staff members' "I've been offered other jobs, but I've refused
[t sensitivity to those they serve. Those who counsel or them. It takes some sort of dedication to stay on
e teach also need state accreditation. here, when you could be making twice as much
o GOIC staff members exude a commitment to elsewhere," Randall adds.
e their jobs which is seldom encountered:"There's a Trainees must also make a commitment when
d contagious- enthusiasm about the organization," they enroll in any GOIC program. When John Rouse
ff comments Ed Hodges, the New Detroit re'presen- first came to GOIC he sat down with a counselor to
d tative on the GOIC Technical and Industrial Ad- discuss his goals and his ability to meet them. Then
' visory Board, which is composed of business and he took a placement test and agreed to a contract
- community leaders who work with the center. binding him to regular attendance and a concerted
n Hodges attributes much of the staff's dedication effort to better himself. "It seems like they (GOIC
to Brewer's leadership. "It's a very dedicated staff, staff members) care. They let you know the things
t largely because of the kind of executive director you need in life," says John.
Jim Brewer is," he explains. Hodges' catch phrase Throughout the four-month clerical training
for Brewer is "concerned,{" which he defines as program (other programs last six months), John
someone who is "highly sensitive to the needs of the talked with his counselor twice a month and met
individual and the personnel needs of employers." with a group to discuss mutual progress and
Hodges also serves as Michigan Bell's personnel problems. Once a week, he attended awareness
vice-president and has-known Brewer since the sessions, during which the reailities of day-to-day
GOIC director came to Detroit in 1972. Brewer is work are examined. Dismal factory surroundings
"down-to-earth, no nonsense, very open, willing to and testy employers or supervisors are only two
listen, and accepts advice and implements it," aspects of work life covered in unadorned detail
Hodges adds. during the sessions. GOIC counselors try to avoid
Janis Rhodes recently joined the GOIC staff. She creating false expectations for trainees. It is not
was -not assigned a formal position, but began going to be easy to adhere to daily routines or un-
devising workshops and proposals for programs to pleasant working conditions, they tell the trainees.
deal with displaced homemakers. "I've got a lot of In classes and awareness sessions, basic social
new good ideas, I just hope they go!" she says. skills ranging from interviewing techniques and
Jeff McLeod is a University graduate who works assertiveness training to a pleasant smile and a
with applicants in orientation and goal iden- firm handshake are stressed. John's com-
tification training. He has been with GOIC since munications teacher "changed me in expressing
Nov. 1978 and senses dedication among his fellow my views and talking that slang talk." John says his
staff members. "People seem to be together and teacher explained that people could not understand
very committed, so much that when you're new, you what he was saying when he talked "that street
get scared a bit by all the talk about commitments." life." But John obviously altered his style of speech
THE COMMITMENT of GOIC's staff is il- on his own volition. "I changed because it was the
lustrated by. the fact that many of them right way," he says.
have been offered jobs elsewhere - but
they stay at GOIC for the non-material re-
wards of their jobssPhotos by Maureen O'Malley
Explains Brewer, "When a person comes back
and says 'Thank you,' that has to do something for a
person. You feel proud of-helping that person to get John's transformation was not magical or
where they're at. When you help somebody, it's bet- automatic. But his friends from the street corner
ter than any dollar or cent you could get." Brewer recognized the difference. "They'd see me going to
often has witnessed the tremendous change GOIC school every day - I had a brief case - and they
trainees experience by the time they leave for jobs. thought I felt I was better than them." John tried to
"You see a person come in and no matter how give them some advice: "Being out there in the
bowed and disenfranchised'they look, you sefhie-'thdets ain't getting you nowhere."


John's old friends did not rush to GOIC, but the
support of his new acquaintances, from classes
helped him pursue his redirection without feeling of
loss. "Everybody got along with everybody (at
GOIC) and looked out for everybody. They stick
together," he recalls.
Carl Porter was in clerical training with John and
continues to work in GOIC's technical services
department. He plans to enroll at Detroit Business
College in January, but that won't keep him from
working at GOIC. "This is the best place I know of
for working and going to school (at night) because
they don't hold you back," he says.
Carl also welcomes GOIC attempts to acclimate
trainees to the business world. In fact, one of the
reasons he chose clerical training is that he was
required to wear a suit to class, "and that's nice."
He responded to the flashing lights on the an-
tiquated GOIC switchboard, and gestured to his
powder blue V-neck sweater and beige slacks. "You
see me here today, if I had on a suit, you might get a
different impression."
THEN "AN OLD, white, gray-haired lady,"
as Brewer describes her, came in to inter-
view John. She did not offer the ready
smile characteristic of GOIC staff mem-
bers and was not sympathetic to his obvious
anxieties. Some students break down and cry when
they are criticized and treated harshly in these
situations. Teachers immediately provide more
positive reinforcement, knowing such negative
responses mean more training is needed.
Unlike manytrainees, John says he didn't expect
GOIC to get him a job upon completion of the
program. He has not found a job yet, after com-
pleting basic clerical training, but he knows how to
get oi.- GOIC job developers assist Williams in
locating jobs and placing trainees in them.
Placement does not mean GOIC secures em-
ployment for its graduates. Rather, it discovers
where jobs are and after a trainee lands one, his or
her counselor and a job developer help the trainee
keep it.
"We tell employers, 'don't terminate them, call
us if there are any problems'," Brewer says. If an
employer informs GOIC of difficulties, a counselor
or teacher is sent to the job site immediately to talk
with the GOIC graduate and work out the problem.
Once a graduate is placed, GOIC checks on him or
her after one month, three months, six months and
again after about four years, to make sure the GOIC
alumnus is still employed.
GOIC negotiates contracts and delineates con-
tract goals before sponsors provide funds. The cen-
ter usually exceeds its placement goals, according
to Glenda Greggs, who compiles GOIC's statistics.
She says, considering the challenges GOIC faces, if
50 per cent of the total enrollment is placed, "That's
excellent." GOIC's placement rate hovers around
90 per cent, according to Greggs and William
Walker, head of program management for Detroit
The Detroit GOIC is one of 150 similar centers
across the country, the products of an idea nurtured
by Rev. Leon Sullivan and based on his observations
of desperate poverty in Philadelphia. A Baptist
preacher, Sullivan is known best as the General
Motors board member who devised the Sullivan
Principles - the guidelines for equitable em-
ployment practices by firms operating in the apar-
theid system of South Africa.
Sullivan first applied the OIC idea in Philadelphia
in 1964, where Brewer joined the organization a
year later. Sullivan envisioned bridging the chasm
between the labor market and workers by fur-
nishing the academic and. vocational skills disad-
vantaged individuals need to become competitive in
the job market. The premise entails helping the un-
derprivileged to catch up in areas such as articulate
expression and social habits that people of the mid-
dle and upper classes usually already possess.
"Integration without preparation leads to
frustration," is one of many oft-repeated Sullivan
Sullivan devised a practical formula for orienting
disadvantaged individuals to the world of work. The
formula has been taken off the blackboards at OIC
personnel workshops and used to train 400,000
See GOIC. Page 8

John Rouse (left) and Gregg Tartt who, with GOIC's help, have earned high school Graduate Equiva-
lency diplomas and have acquired trade skills that improve their job opportunities.

Back to Top

© 2024 Regents of the University of Michigan