By Marcia Moore
KREAMER — The abrupt closure of Wood-Mode in May has led to the employment of four new PA CareerLink staff to assist many of the 938 former plant workers looking for jobs.
The positions have been added to the Sunbury office where most of the displaced workers from the Kreamer plant have been visiting regularly since the May 13 closure, said Erica Mulberger, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corp.
“On May 13 we had 32 people here on May 14 we had 98,” said Jamie Mercaldo, administrator at the CareerLink Sunbury office. “We weren’t prepared for it right away.”
While many of the visits are weekly, Mercaldo said some former Wood-Mode workers show up at the office daily.
“Looking for a job is a full-time job and they are used to having a routine,” she said.
To handle the increased visits the CareerLink has added a workshop instructor, career coach, job developer and business coordinator responsible for helping businesses and prospective employees connect, she said.
The staff is assisting out-of-work residents in obtaining unemployment benefits and job searches, funding for retraining as well as providing a number of workshops on such topics as computer skills training, job searching after 50 and will be adding another designed to train former Wood-Mode employees how to market themselves to prospective employers..
“I’ve been at Wood-Mode for 20 years. I don’t have these skills,” said Tammy Heeter, a Beavertown resident who has been visiting the CareerLink in Sunbury almost weekly since the custom cabinet manufacturing plant closed without warning after 77 years.
Heeter said she’s created a resume with the help of staff and will soon begin working on developing new skills to make her job search easier.
“They have been an awesome resource. I think it’s crazy not to take advantage” of the CareerLink services, she said.
CareerLink career coach Brandy Margel said she has a long list of former Wood-Mode workers interested in finding jobs in a new field. About 20 are already enrolled and many “are still in limbo” following the sudden plant closure, she said.
“I give any dislocated worker all the options,” she said of the services offered, which begin with an assessment of the individual to determine what field for which they may be best suited. “We want to make sure it’s a good fit. We don’t want to set them up for failure.”
Several workers are interested in getting a commercial driving license or working in the medical field, Margel said, and the CareerLink is able to provide partial or full funding for retraining.