Cherokee Nation opens Career Services Muskogee field office
A ribbon-cutting with Cherokee Nation officials and the City of Muskogee officials takes place Dec. 13 for a new CN Career Services office at 1305 Country Club Road in Muskogee. COURTESY
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., left, and Tribal Councilor Mike Dobbins stand next to the Career Services field office sign in Muskogee that lists the types of services clients can expect at the newly opened space at 1305 Country Club Road. COURTESY
MUSKOGEE – The Cherokee Nation’s Career Services celebrated the opening of a field office on Dec. 13 to better accommodate clients in Muskogee County and surrounding areas so they will not have to travel to Tahlequah for services.
Tribal Councilor Mike Dobbins said constituents previously reached out to him about Career Services, and he could only direct them to Tahlequah.
“Hopefully it’s just going to broaden the footprint the Cherokees have in Muskogee,” he said. “I think our Cherokee citizens certainly appreciate it. I get a lot of feedback from citizens, and they’re very appreciative of this new Career Services office.”
Career Services was previously using office space in the Three Rivers Health Center for certain programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
“Everybody was just taking turns using this one primary office over there,” Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley said. “TANF caseloads indicated that we might need to have more people. Then we started looking at the 14 counties of the Cherokee Nation. We were going to have to have compliance. We were going to have to have a coordinator. So we realized that would be kind of a focal point for us to have some of those people there, so that’s why we were looking at trying to find a location.”
Most clients were filtered into the shared office by way of the Behavioral Health department in the Three Rivers Health Center.
Kelley said there is an emphasis on the new field office, located at 1305 S. Country Club Road, to provide more than just TANF services. She said staff members are working to provide more training and employment services rather than just welfare services.
“It was primarily for our TANF program, but it enhances all of our other services that we have, so therefore we don’t have to share one office at the clinic,” she said. “We’re hoping that by virtue of this office it will help to have more clientele that have been traveling to Tahlequah.”
The new office offers other services such as different types of training, alternative education/GED classes, youth employment, the Coming Home Re-Entry Program, Talking Leaves Job Corps admissions/placement, the dislocated workers program and the Tribal Employment Rights Office.
“We’ve got about 30 different employment and training programs under the umbrella of Career Services, and TANF is to serve as a wrap-around program to provide services,” Brenda Fitzgerald, Career Services TANF and Vocational Rehabilitation director, said.
Kelley said Career Service employees were traveling from Tahlequah to work in Muskogee and were sometimes working from their vehicles.
“I know our staff are excited. They’ve pretty much had to work in that area out of their cars and drive back and forth. This way there is a place for them to meet the clients and work with them so they’re not having to go find a space to work,” she said.