To provide reliable information and referral resources, and other supportive services, for Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas
To be the predominant human/social service information resource for Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas
In 1955, two major labor groups – the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations joined forces. Out of what now is known as the AFL-CIO, Community Services was born. The AFL-CIO saw a need to represent the interests of the labor movement to help further work done by local community assistance agencies. Its goals were to 1) encourage fair labor representation in these agencies, 2) interpret agency programs to union members, 3) coordinate fundraising efforts, and 4) help improve social work standards and practices.
Locally, the first Labor Liaison was selected by the Northwest Missouri Central Labor Council in 1978. This person was placed on staff with the United Way of Greater St. Joseph, and soon the area AFL-CIO Community Services Department was formed. In 1986, the staff added a second Labor Liaison.
While nationally, the Labor Liaison mainly interacted with union members, in St. Joseph, it also worked with non-union members as well. The responsibilities of the local Labor Liaison mirrored that of those established by the organization at the national level back in 1955. The local Liaisons also helped run the Information and Referral Department of the United Way.
In 1989, the local AFL-CIO Community Services formed its own agency apart from the United Way as it was offering separate programs to the community: Information and Referral, Adopt-A-Family Christmas Program, the Fab-U-Less Finds and Union Counseling Classes. Today, the AFL-CIO Community Services Agency still offers all these services with the exception of Union Counseling Classes.
The AFL-CIO Community Services Agency has been its current location since 2000, and has volunteers helping with programs daily. In addition to the original programs provided, the agency has broadened its scope to include supplemental programs such as the Lions Club Eyeglasses and Soles for Christ Shoe Program. Agency members also serve on the committees and boards of several local social services organizations and participate in coalitions throughout the community.
The local AFL-CIO is a member of MAK-AIRS, which is the regional affiliate for the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) for Missouri, Arkansas, and Kansas. Formerly known as the Midwest Information and Referral Services Association (MIRSA), MAK-AIRS helps set consistent and professional standards by which each aspect of quality I&R is measured. MAK-AIRS also provides training and certification courses to this end and helps raise community awareness of I&R services.
Membership in MAK-AIRS means that your local I&R agency has completed the AIRS Certification process, a professional credentialing program for those working in the I&R sector of human services. Obtaining certification ensures that we have proven our expertise in the field of I&R and that we have demonstrated the strictest quality standards when it comes knowledge, skills, attitudes and work-related behaviors needed by I&R practitioners to successfully execute their duties.
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