Irish Spencer advocates for the ‘welfare of people’

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- All of us like to pull for the underdog. For Irish Spencer, it’s a passion, especially when it comes to putting the Piedmont back to work and to community service.

She started out in radio in Greensboro working her way up from on-air work to sales to even station management. It’s an occupation still close to her heart. In fact, you can hear her every Saturday at noon playing “old school” R&B on 90.1 FM WNAA “The Voice,” the campus station at North Carolina A&T State University, her undergraduate alma mater. Her on-air name is “The Wild Irish Rose.”

During the week, however, she’s known as “Dr. Spencer.” She runs the Welfare Reform Liaison Project (WRLP), a nationally-recognized Community Action Agency meaning it gets federal funding as an organization that fights poverty. But don’t let the first word in this agency’s name fool you.

“We are for the welfare of people, not people on welfare,” she said. “That’s what we do over here. These are people who are at poverty level or below for whatever reason. And they are here to remake themselves.”

Here, qualified students 18 or older get training, get certified and get help finding jobs in high-demand industries. Construction is one of the “hottest” career paths these students pursue right now. Here they can get certified in practically all construction areas including electrical, plumbing and HVAC.

Other areas of study include digital imaging (WRLP students are currently “digitizing” all the records for the Guilford County Health Department), media (photography, videography and internet radio) and hospitality (students are currently working in area hotels).

“I know that I can’t train anyone here on my site to put a plane together,” Spencer said. “But I can train things that are realistic here that people can get here on the bus line.”

Recently, the WRLP started accepting people from two area prisons who’ve served their time and are ready to re-enter the workforce. A logistics training program is in the planning stages and, in addition to the current offices/classrooms in Greensboro and High Point, there are plans to expand into Rockingham and Caswell Counties — two counties with high percentages of potential students.

“This place is taking care of the least of these, and that’s what we’re supposed to do,” she said. “That’s what we’re supposed to do.

For more information on the Welfare Reform Liaison Project including eligibility requirements and program offerings, check out its website at http://www.wrlp.net.