Letters Extra: Poverty antidote in training for today's jobs

Like any mother, my heart went out to Emily Edwards and Deisha Bradley, the two women featured in Inquirer reporter Alfred Lubrano’s disturbing portrait of deep poverty in Philadelphia (“Of big cities, Phila. worst for people in deep poverty, March 19). Fortunately, I can do more than feel empathy for two people caught in the undertow of poverty as head of the Urban League of Philadelphia. Our agency already has reached out to these women, and Bradley has registered with our Career Center.

We do not have a magic bullet to restore the budget cuts that have left thousands of our fellow citizens jobless. But the Urban League does offer programs to train workers and prepare them for jobs in today’s market. Our staff helps workers learn to use computers, which are essential to the job search. We revise resumes, offer mock interviews and prepare workers to compete in the job market. We also match them with employers who have job openings. We do not charge for these services.

Deisha Bradley , a North Philadelphia resident featured in the Inquirer report on deep poverty. RON TARVER / Staff Photographer

One of our most successful programs is Connect to Work — a six-week program that trains participants to work in the customer service industry. A subsidy is available. About 13 students in the December class had firm job offers before they completed the training.

Today’s business environment demands service workers who know how to help customers and clients. These jobs offer a living wage and a foot in the door for those who are motivated to succeed. There are thousands of Emily’s and Deisha’s across the country wanting to build a better life. We won’t let them down.

Patricia A. Coulter, president and chief executive officer, Urban League of Philadelphia