MinKwon Center debuts immigrant jobs program

S.J. Jung, president of the MinKwon Center, (l.) joins Councilman Peter Koo (third from l.) and others at an event announcing a new MinKwon Center initiative to provide job assistance to Flushing's immigrant communities. Photo courtesy MinKwon Center
By Connor Adams Sheets

The MinKwon Center has begun to implement a program to help Flushing-area immigrants gain employment skills, learn their rights as workers and more, using federal stimulus money it was awarded in January.

The organization rolled out Friday the jobs-based initiative aimed at turning low-wage, unemployed immigrants into productive members of society with full knowledge of their labor and legal rights.

A three-pronged approach will help the center address issues that often plague such individuals. MinKwon will host workshops, counseling sessions and informative sessions for those in need of such assistance; provide technical assistance to other community organizations in hopes that they can further their mission; and work with the Chinese-American Planning Council and Korean Community Services programs to provide actual job training.

“In addition to the actual long-term job skills and placement, we hope that through the workshops that MinKwon Center will be providing that community members will enter the workforce more empowered and more aware of their rights,” Liz Rhee, MinKwon’s worker organizer, said.

The work is fully funded to run through September by a $200,000 stimulus grant, one of six disbursed throughout the city and funneled through the city Department of Youth and Community Development for the purpose of helping immigrant workers. Each grant is required to assist at least 80 workers and was awarded via a competitive bid process.

MinKwon’s partners are providing targeted programming aimed at educating participants in worthwhile skills that will help them to sustain once they have finished their courses.

Korean Community Services is offering three-week courses in Korean about home health assistant skills, at the end of which all graduates will receive certificates to perform that job in New York City, as well as two-month classes in English covering the language, etiquette and laws of food service.

“Basically, we’re looking to provide employment for the immigrant Asian-American community, but not just get them a job but also bring them resources and help them be able to find their own jobs and maintain them,” said Annie Shin, the adult literacy and job training program coordinator for Korean Community Services.

For more information on the MinKwon Center and its initiatives or to connect with its partners, visit ykasec.org or call 718-460-5600.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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