Since National Able Network (Able) was founded in 1977, one of the most persistent challenges we have faced is quickly reaching and delivering services to those most in need. In fact, this is a challenge that faces all supportive services agencies, which is why Able and agencies like us must place a high emphasis on active outreach. Outreach is the process of finding potential clients, communicating with them about our organization, and allowing them in turn to make informed decisions about joining one of our programs. Without a strategic and comprehensive outreach plan, organizations run the risk of never reaching potential clients, wasting invaluable resources, and possibly even ceasing to exist as a viable organization. Over the last thirty-eight years and counting, Able has remained a strong service provider to communities in Chicago and beyond due in large part to our successful community outreach practices, though the means of reaching out to potential clients has changed considerably over Able’s lifetime!

In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Operation ABLE (as we were known back then) was founded in Chicago to help unemployed senior citizens get back into the job market, and our services could not

have come at a better time, as the unemployment rate in the U.S. skyrocketed from 7.1% in 1977 to a whopping 9.7% in 1982! To get in touch with potential clients, Able used a number of tried-and-true methods of communication including our “ABLE Job Hotline” (a free phone service that seniors could call to find open job listings), resource fairs, and flyers. The agency created paper flyers both to advertise the programs we offered and to invite potential clients to resource fairs. These flyers would be distributed individually by hand or through the U.S. Postal Service. Potential clients would then fill out a form and send it back to the agency to register for a fair, a process that took several days, at least. Finally, at the resource event itself, senior job seekers would network with other seniors, learn about the programs Able offered, and receive advice from guest speakers and workforce experts.

Fast-forward to the 2010s: we are now called National Able Network, and in addition to serving seniors, we also assist the unemployed, veterans, and aspiring IT professionals in five states! And our services are just as timely now as they were then, as the unemployment rate reached 9.6% in 2010 (the highest rate since 1983)! While we still create flyers for our programs and our resource events, they are largely created to be viewed and disseminated online through any or all of our 10 social media platforms, including our websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts. In addition to posting our

materials online, we can also send our flyers and job leads to thousands of clients at a time with a single click via email, and our potential clients can register for our events online as well, making the entire registration process a matter of minutes, at most. As our programs and service areas increase, so too does the need for us to find new ways of connecting with and informing our potential clients about the resources we have to offer.

By now, you may have guessed that even this blog is a form of outreach! Able is currently enrolling for all of our programs; our blog is another tool for us to communicate with potential clients directly, in this case, about how Able has consistently served our community for almost four decades and we have and continue to look for cutting-edge, innovate ways to reach our clients.

While times, economies, and technologies change, Able’s mission to help make careers happen remains the same. Whether you are a veteran or a civilian, unemployed or underemployed, a senior citizen or a millennial, National Able Network can assist you with all of your employment service needs.

For more information about National Able Network and the services we offer, please visit our website.