NOVA, a career readiness program, has been doing work in Bastrop for some time, and Wednesday, December 12, a meet and greet was held for participants, city officials, and the community.

NOVA (New Opportunities Vision Achievement) is a program based in Ouachita Parish with the goal of helping people ages 18 and up find careers by providing training and collaborating with various employers. They want to help people find a career they enjoy and that will enable them to provide for themselves.

“We try to put individuals on a career path with a living wage job with benefits,” said Executive Director of NOVA Paul West.

NOVA offers a six week career readiness course and support services such as childcare, transportation and counseling. They have four career areas of focus: healthcare, customer service, construction trades, and manufacturing. It is the goal of the career readiness course to prepare participants for jobs in these fields.

“The career readiness course teaches everything from financial and stress management to job etiquette and dressing for success,” said West.

Community college or technical school is needed for some of these jobs and NOVA helps participants get into the necessary school programs. They help participants with school tuition in some cases during the first semester or if they have problems.

“If someone has a month where they are struggling say with rent or their car breaks down we help with supportive services,” explained West.

The Bastrop program is based at City Hall. Employee Minnie Chaffold is on site four days a week to manage the program and help those enrolled.

Juanita Woods, Director of Programs and Participant Services, comes once a week to teach the career readiness classes.

NOVA is for all ages over 18, and West believes it helps give people a sense of purpose.

“At the end of the day NOVA gives people hope that maybe they can do it now,” he said.

A meet and greet, the first for Bastrop's program, was held at the City Hall. NOVA and city officials as well as program participants were there visiting and talking about the program.

West spoke at length about the program as did Woods.

Several city officials spoke congratulating the program and participants.

Mayor Henry Cotton talked about Bastrop's participation in the program and thanked NOVA for all it does.

“I was always interested in college and career readiness,” he noted. “As long as I'm mayor I am going to continue to support the program.”

After the speeches, the guests were able to dine on sandwiches, chips, cake, and other refreshments.

The City of Bastrop thanks NOVA for all they do in the community and hopes to continue working with the program into the future.