Sue Bennett, local CWJC site coordinator, and Edna Polier, corps teacher, explained the program's benefits at a recent Bradley County Interagency meeting.
"We help them deal with the different roadblocks in their lives," Polier said. "[We ask them] to overcome these roadblocks, what would you need to do?"
Answers to this question vary from woman to woman. Each one has faced a different trial, or trials in some cases, in her life. The mission of CWJC is to help them find hope while equipping them with life and employment skills to handle life’s challenges.
Every participant is expected to do her homework and attend Bible study lessons. Homework is based on the Jobs for Life curriculum. All students learn budget management, basic car maintenance, resume preparation, interviewing skills, business etiquette, computer training, life skills, health and nutrition and healthy relationships.
“Not only are you teaching, but you are building relationships,” Polier said. “You are holding them accountable for things they have never been held accountable for.”
While all students are asked to attend Bible study, Polier said the lessons are not shoved onto participants.
“We have had four come to the Lord, and we don’t push anything on them. We put it out there before them. Then we start working with them and talking with them,” Polier said. “We are very open with them.”
Students undergo a 16-week program on their way to graduation. They meet once a week at the Bradley Baptist Association by North Cleveland Baptist Church. Students who are frequently absent, do not complete their homework or do not engage in all of the activities may not graduate. Bennett said they are still welcome to attend the classes, but there is no promise of graduation.
Program participants are taken on a clothing spree prior to graduation. Clothes donated to the program are set up on racks. CWJC ladies are invited to go through the clothes to pick out their outfits for success and fun. A makeover and special dinner top off the pre-graduation festivities.
According to Bennett, it is amazing to see the doors of opportunity opened for these women.
“One of our ladies this time was a homeless lady and she lived in the homeless shelter for four months with her 9-year-old boy,” Bennett said. “[A Caring Place social worker] said go find the Christian Women’s Job Corps and they will help you.”
The woman took two buses to get to the BBA. She was dropped off at a CVS store without an idea of where she was in relation to the association. A woman at CVS heard her plight and offered her a ride. Before she got out of the car, the woman handed her a cellphone number and told her to give her a call when she was done.
She later told Bennett she had no money to get home, but the woman in the car did not know that.
“Because of y’all, because you sent her — the bottom line is because the Lord grabbed ahold of her,” Bennett said, “her life will never be the same.”
She painted a picture of lost women going through the program and finding their confidence to give their speeches on graduation day.
“It is the most amazing thing in the world to watch the Lord change their lives,” Bennett said.
More information on the program can be found at the CWJC website, christianwomenjobs.org.