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EFFINGHAM -- C.E.F.S. Economic Opportunity Corporation recently showcased their 52nd year of accomplishments, demonstrating the fact that community action helps people and changes lives.

During the 2017 annual meeting, some very special people were recognized that had overcome obstacles in obtaining or maintaining self-sufficiency, according to a press release.

According to C.E.F.S. Chief Executive Officer Kevin Bushur, “This past year our programs and services truly made a real difference in the lives of residents of the community.”

Ciarra Shonk of Mattoon had been working in a nursing home as a housekeeper when she first realized her interest in becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant. Shonk came to her local C.E.F.S. Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Program Office in July 2016 and enrolled in the WIOA Youth Program with the goal of completing the Basic Nursing Assistant Program at Lake Land College.

The WIOA Youth Program assisted Shonk with tuition, transportation costs and other training related expenses. In December 2016, she completed the program and was ready to complete the exam to become a CNA. Shonk was able to take the services and assistance provided by the WIOA Youth Program and turn it into a life-changing employment opportunity that will benefit her and her family for years to come. Shonk is currently employed full time at Palm Terrace in Mattoon working as a CNA.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Program provides activities that increase employment, retention, earnings and skills in the American Workforce. The C.E.F.S. WIOA Program serves 14 counties in Local Workforce Innovation Area No. 23 with grant funds from Lake Land College through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Programs include Youth, Adult, Dislocated Worker and Trade Adjustment Act. Customers of the program are able to easily receive a preliminary assessment of their skill levels, aptitudes, abilities and support service needs. Customers can obtain information on a full array of employment related services.

The workforce centers also offer job search and placement assistance, career counseling and up-to-date labor market information which identifies job vacancies, skills necessary for in-demand jobs and provides information about local, regional and national employment trends. People who need more intensive help to become employed can receive more comprehensive assessments, development of employment plans, group and individual counseling, case management and short-term pre-vocational services.

In some cases, qualified customers may receive training services such as on the job training, tuition assistance, work experience and supportive services which are directly linked to job opportunities in their local area. A youth program is also available which offers youth training services, paid work experience, on the job training, job readiness training, supportive services, leadership skills, resume development, job search assistance and classroom training.

C.E.F.S. Economic Opportunity Corporation has been providing comprehensive social services for over fifty-two years for limited-income persons. C.E.F.S. is a comprehensive human service provider offering direct services, referrals and linkages to address the issues facing low-income residents and providing local community solutions to meet those needs.

For more information about the community action agency or program, contact the local Illinois workNet Center office at 217-235-2222, the C.E.F.S. central office at 217-342-2193 or visit the agency website at or the agency Facebook page at


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