Presidential Gauntlet is no Barrier in Getting L.A. Back to Work

Los Angeles- May 9, 2014 – Nearly 400 friends, supporters and financial partners of JVS braved a gauntlet of U.S. Secret Service personnel and bomb sniffing dogs to celebrate the life-changing efforts of JVS to put Angelenos back to work, one job at a time.

With NBC 4 Weatherman Fritz Coleman serving as Master of Ceremonies for a second consecutive year and featuring a keynote address by Banc of California President and CEO Steven A. Sugarman, the 17th annual Strictly Business Awards Luncheon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel drew an enthusiastic crowd and resulted in generating nearly $300,000 in critical funding including more than $50,000 raised during an urgent appeal.

“Gatherings like this are wonderful because they give us a chance to reconnect and remind us the impact we have when we combine our resources and expertise and come together with this common purpose,” said JVS Board President Jim Hausberg.

Strictly Business L.A. took place mere hours after President Obama had left the Hilton where he had been a guest at the hotel during his most recent visit to Los Angeles. The President’s visit caused road closures, traffic tie-ups and enhanced security both at the hotel and in the surrounding area. Event Emcee Coleman joked that the President had been spotted in the hotel lobby at 6 a.m., helping people with iPads access the Affordable Care Act website.

JVS presented its three Inspiration Awards to Edward Webster, a formerly homeless veteran who is now employed as a property manager; Felicia Cates, a foster child who beat the odds, and Jim Harmer, a onetime salesman in the construction industry who learned new skills in a new field.

JVS also celebrated the success of the agency’s customized training programs including BankWork$, HealthWorks and Veterans First which helped clients like Webster, Cates and Harmer overcome substantial barriers to employment and reach new professional heights.

Following the screening of the newest agency-produced video “JVS: Rekindling the Dream,” attendees responded generously during an urgent appeal, pledging more than $25,000 to support JVS programs. An anonymous donor provided a dollar-for-dollar match, bringing the total to $50,000. The video is viewable on the JVS website at

Webster, Cates and Harmer took the stage to a standing ovation. Each thanked the JVS donors who help make the agency’s programs possible.

“You don’t know the meaning of the lives you affect by giving,” Cates told the donors. “You give us hope and humanity.”

In his keynote address, Sugarman – who had been introduced to the agency by JVS board member and past honoree Marshall L. Geller – emphasized the importance of banks supporting the work of JVS. Sugarman recently sent Banc of California executives to a graduation of JVS BankWork$ and was impressed with what he learned about the agency’s training program.

“Banc of California is excited to stand next to the other banks that work together as part of BankWork$ to benefit JVS and Los Angeles,” said Sugarman, whose Banc of California is now the largest bank headquartered in Orange County with more than $5 billion in assets, over 100 locations and 38 branches.  “We know from our own experience that JVS’ job bank is comprehensive and candidates come from all walks of life. The organization does a stellar job with matching skills with opportunity to everyone’s benefit.”

BankWork$ and HealthWorks are award-winning centerpieces of JVS efforts to train individuals with substantial barriers to employment for new careers in high growth industries. The two programs have graduated nearly 1,150 trainees and placed them in more than 850 jobs with partnering financial and healthcare organizations.

These are shining examples of training programs that help job seekers bridge the “skills gap.” During the 2014 State of the Union, President Obama highlighted the efforts of America’s Job Centers – like the ones operated by JVS – and emphasized the need for an overhaul of training programs that help jobless Americans get the skills they need to be hired into readily available positions.

 “How can we help change the life of even one person,” said Coleman. “The answer to that is hope. What JVS does so effectively is give people hope for the future by giving them access to the resources, the training and the support they need to get their lives back on track.”

About (Jewish Vocational Service) JVS: Serving the widely diverse Southern California community, JVS Los Angeles helps people of all faiths and backgrounds overcome barriers to employment so they can become self-sufficient. From recently released veterans to at risk, foster and probation youth, the long term unemployed and people with disabilities, our goal is to provide individuals with the tools, resources and support they need through job training, mentoring, expert career coaching, job placement and retention support. Leaders in the workforce development field and advocates for the underserved, JVS Los Angeles was founded in 1931 to fight workplace discrimination and help Jewish refugees fleeing the political upheaval in Europe to find jobs and begin new lives. Over eight decades later we are going strong – serving nearly 30,000 people each year.

May 12, 2014