Career specialist Biffar bridges gap between Monroe County job-seekers and businesses in need
Through her role as career specialist for the Monroe County Field Office of the St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Department, Melanie Biffar helps people achieve and enjoy what it means to be self-sufficient.
“Being able to help people in our community go back to school or work and live a more self-sufficient life for themselves and their families is very rewarding,” Biffar told SW Illinois News. “I have gotten into the community to talk to others about our programs and the things that we offer to those who qualify. I feel this is a wonderful tool in assisting those who are struggling and need the assistance.”
Biffar became a career specialist for the St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Department in 2018. The department administers the Workforce Innovative and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which helps individuals find jobs, and helps businesses find skilled workers. In addition to Monroe, the program is also utilized by Clinton, St. Clair, Randolph and Washington counties.
Biffar is committed to spreading more awareness about the program.
“So many people in our community do not realize that it exists,” she said. “Getting the word out and having businesses interested in this program will help the community as a whole.”
Biffar chose to become a career specialist because of her passion for helping others.
“Struggling to make ends meet, while sometimes also raising children, is something I hate to see anyone go through,” she said. “So many people want to go back and get an education to find a better job but financially cannot make it work. They don’t have the money to pay for school, so they have to work full-time while trying to go to school and then struggle. It is a great feeling when I have a student that graduates and has a rewarding career and I know that I helped them to achieve that.”
Biffar has a resource room in her office with a computer for job-searching and conducts assessment tests to see what would be a good career choice for an individual based on their interests and skills.
Biffar has an associate's of art degree from Southwestern Illinois College. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in psychology and a minor in sociology from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Upon graduating, she worked as a case manager for Riverbend Headstart & Family Services in Granite City.
In her spare time, Biffar enjoys gardening and spending quality time with her family.