Water for Ishmael offers Toledo immigrants their first job

Water for Ishmael is a resource for immigrants here in Toledo. It aims to help them learn English, adjust to life in a new place, and now, along with Lott Industries, to find a job. Students got a first look at their new workplace Tuesday.
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - For, nearly 20 years, Water for Ishmael has offered a lot of opportunities for immigrant families, and thanks to a new partnership, the school will now offer a new employment option for students.

Water for Ishmael aids with learning opportunities such as English skills, access to daycare, and various resources. Now, local immigrant women can find employment, which is a first for some of them.

Janelle Metzger is the Executive Director for Water for Ishmael. She and other leaders of the school approached leaders at Lott Industries to form this partnership.

“It’s so empowering for women,” she told 13abc. Metzger added that women have shared how they’d “like to earn money for themselves” however, they often cannot due to several obstacles. “..they feel like, between having little ones at home, maybe not knowing English, not knowing where to go, not knowing what’s a good work environment,” she said.

Mannal Mustafa is a woman from Sudan. She is learning English at the school and has earned her GED. She’s lived in the U.S. since 1995 and has six children. She told 13abc that she plans to apply to work at Lott. “This is the first time for me to get this opportunity,” she explained.

Tim Menke, the CEO of Lott Industries said the answer was easy, ‘yes’: “When we had a room full of people with many different nations with people coming to America, trying to make that next step. It just seemed like the right thing to do,” he said.

Lott Industries sits across the street from Water for Ishmael and employs people with developmental disabilities. So, this partnership is a new adventure for the company, too.

Menke explained, “Now it’s anyone with a barrier to employment. Anybody who needs another chance in life, or that next step to get them to where they need to be.”

In just a few months, Water for Ishmael will celebrate 20 years of serving Toledo, but this is the first time they’ve ever been able to offer students access to a job. Mustafa has a message for the people who have helped her along her journey:

“I love them, and I want them to be proud,” Mustafa said.

The women who apply to work at Lott Industries will work eight hours a week and earn minimum wage.

You can learn more about the school here.

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