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Our Stories: Spotlights

Board: Mari Jo

Board: Mari Jo

Meet Mari Jo Long

Ten years ago, Board Chair Mari Jo Long was looking to launch her nonprofit career and applied for a part-time Daily Work position with Executive Director Julie Hoff. “I was completely underqualified, and I didn’t get the job. But with Julie being Julie, she kept in touch,” says Mari Jo.

Mari Jo ended up taking employment with Project for Pride in Living, an influential nonprofit that specializes in housing stability and career readiness. A few years later, Julie reached out asking if Mari Jo would join the DW Board. “I saw it as an opportunity to develop my nonprofit leadership and governance experience,” she remarks. What Mari Jo got was a deeper passion for human-centric service work.

Now an experienced nonprofit professional, Mari Jo observes how many organizations focus on a narrow range of services, directing clients elsewhere for additional needs, noting that the pressure for organizational efficiency and robust outcomes has led to a fragmented system. Consequently, people are burdened with coordinating numerous appointments, managing various deadlines, and arranging transportation. They repeatedly recount their stories, fill out extensive paperwork, and submit applications to multiple agencies.

The system fails to effectively support individuals who lack essential resources like transportation, childcare, and financial means. Especially for those facing language barriers, maneuvering through myriad agencies and understanding their specific requirements becomes an overwhelming challenge.

“They bounce around in a system that is supposed to support them, and they become disenfranchised,” Mari Jo notes. “Instead of offering empowerment and assistance, the system pushes them to the margins.”

DW’s ability to address this pivotal issue is what caught Mari Jo’s attention. “The impact that Daily Work has in supporting the changes that job seekers are looking for is incredibly valuable. No one else does what Daily Work does.”

By truly hearing each job seeker’s story, case managers offer more than just task lists; they coach individuals on system navigation and advocate when necessary. DW ensures someone is there to talk through challenges, identify deadlines, and clarify expectations.

Everyone in the industry will say, ‘We don’t have time to provide that level of service.’ Well, Daily Work doesn’t either, but we do it because that is the level of support needed for someone with so few resources to be successful. So, yes, we prioritize individual impacts over quantity and business efficiencies.

~Mari Jo

Mari Jo’s challenge is to increase our resources to sustain this holistic programming approach. “We operate because people pour their heart, soul, and life into this work, but at the end of the day, Daily Work needs to be staffed more appropriately and to offer more competitive salaries and benefits. We also need a space that provides the privacy necessary to have deep and personal conversations with job seekers. No one else treats every individual with the level of respect, compassion, and understanding that Daily Work trains into their social work interns, volunteers, and staff. It is truly a model of excellence on how to make transformational impacts, and I’m here to support that.”

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