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Resident living in Kansas City's Ruskin Heights neighborhood organizes job fair, hopes to offer stable jobs

Beth Boerger, who lives in Ruskin Heights, organized the neighborhood's 1st ever job fair
Posted at 9:07 PM, Sep 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-11 23:29:42-04

VOICE FOR EVERYONE | Share your voice with KSHB 41’s Megan Abundis

Residents living in the Kansas City, Missouri, Ruskin Heights neighborhood are planning its first-ever job fair.

KSHB 41 News reporter Megan Abundis spoke to neighbors who want the best for the area.

“We’re ignored,” said Beth Boerger, who lives in Ruskin Heights.

That’s how Boerger believes others view her Ruskin Heights and Hickman Mills neighborhoods, so she's working to change that.

“You have to care; you have to care about others,” she said.

Boerger lived in the neighborhood for 30 years. She's seen the lack of services, the high student mobility, turnover and eviction rates and people just not sticking around.

“As a long-time homeowner, sometimes you would feel like there’s no point in getting to know your neighbor, because they weren’t going to be there long,” she said.

Rachel Casey, with the Community Assistance Council (CAC), knows the community is underemployed.

“Their average income is about $24,000 for a family of four and that is almost always a single mom with three kids,” Casey said. “About 60% of them have their high school diploma plus some additional education.”

Casey says that can contribute to negative impacts, like rising youth crime and the hundreds of thousands of dollars requested to help people stay in their homes.

“Every week, CAC receives about 300 online applications for emergency rent and utility assistance,” Casey said.

They provide many other services, including help with identification, resumes and online applications, but they can’t do it alone.

“About half of the households within those five zip codes of south Kansas City, about half of those households are renters, and within those half of them, they pay 30% of their income towards rent and utilities — it means they are cost burdened,” Casey said.

These two women decided to try something new, and they believe it will have an immediate impact.

“It is so refreshing — here’s a problem, let’s do a solution,” Casey said.

Boerger organized the first-ever Ruskin Heights job fair, believing high-paying jobs with benefits will add hope to the neighborhood — a reason to stick around.

Representatives from the Missouri Department of Transportation, KCMO and Grandview, law enforcement, construction jobs and 40 other companies plan to participate.

Each of them eager to come to the job fair, Boerger said the employers explained they had trouble getting people to apply.

“I don’t think it will save the neighborhood, but even if it could help one family or 10 families stay in the neighborhoods, pay their rent, and keep their children in the same school with the same friends — that’s success,” she said.

The job fair is on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to noon at 11154 Blue Ridge Boulevard.