Fedcap's Opportunity Center at the Harbor Plaza Shopping Center held an open house and ribbon-cutting Feb. 9.

Officials from the New York City-based nonprofit Fedcap, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Penobscot Bay Chamber of Commerce participated in the event, which included light refreshments and information about the program.

The center opened in Rockland about a year ago.

Fedcap has been contracted by the state of Maine to help find career opportunities for those receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The program is called, "Breaking the Cycle," referring to the cycle of poverty and welfare in the state.

It provides services that had been provided by the state government, but in 2016 Gov. Paul LePage and DHHS decided to privatize those services, which had been referred to as the ASPIRE program.

Fedcap offices are located in Rockland because DHHS has offices providing services right down the street at the Breakwater Marketplace on Camden Street.

The Rockland Fedcap office has successfully placed 232 participants in employment. It has helped enroll 38 participants in adult education programs and it helps others pursue self-employment.

Serena Powell, executive director of "Breaking the Cycle," said the center helps people identify their skills and interests and helps them with preparing resumes and sharpening their job interview skills.

It also provides motivational training. She said that for many of the people who participate, "life has beaten them up a little bit." Motivational training helps them gain confidence.

Site Manager Wendy MacDougall said there are jobs in the area for those who want work. The challenge is not simply finding employment, but finding jobs that pay enough to meet Maine's high cost of living.

Fedcap staff felt the recent increase in Maine's minimum wage had helped with this.

MacDougall said there had been some real success stories, including matching one unemployed person up with a welding program through the Mid-Coast School of Technology that led to a good-paying job at Fisher Engineering in Rockland.

"We want to see them succeed and be able to maintain a lifestyle," she said.

For more information visit fedcap.org or visit the Opportunity Center at Harbor Plaza.