Christian Women’s Job Corps site coordinator Sue Bennett recently revealed the new look of the local organization to the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland.
A picture of a curved path spread out across the projector screen.
“We all start out with a blank path in our life, right?” Bennett told the Kiwanians. “Some of us make better choices than others. Sometimes circumstances happen in our lives.”
She pointed out everyone starts off with the same “sky is the limit” potential at birth.
The mission of the CWJC is to help women who need life and job skills to discover their potential. Bennett reiterated the organization provides a hand up — not a hand out.
“It is unique because Bible study is mandatory and each one of our ladies is paired with a mentor,” Bennett said. “It is a 16-week program that there is no charge for. It is a life and job skills class.”
The class meets every Tuesday, from 8 a.m. to noon, and is offered under the Bradley Baptist Association umbrella. The first half hour centers on coffee, food and talking. The ladies then delve into the Bible for 30 minutes.
One hour is set aside each week for job and life skills. This portion of the class includes everything from proper nutrition and car maintenance to proper housecleaning. The last two hours are taught out of the Powered for Life curriculum.
Every participant fills out a career assessment. The results give both the instructor and participant a focus throughout the program. The interests and strengths of the ladies determine who the CWJC invites to speak.
Bennett expressed her appreciation for the community and business leaders who take the time to pour into the lives of the program’s participants through presentations and advice.
Approximately 30 women have graduated through the six classes offered by the local CWJC. Twenty-one of the graduates either found a job or are in school. The remaining may have been more interested in learning life skills than job skills.
Women from various backgrounds join the program.
One woman signed up for the program while she was still homeless with her 9-year-old son. She is now in nursing school.
“And making straight A’s,” added Bennett. “It is just an amazing, amazing story. It is a great program, and not because I do it, but because each time we have a class, we learn also. We have learned and grown along with our ladies.”
All participants must be at least 18 years of age. The oldest participant was 71-years-old. Bennett explained the retired nurse was burned out and looking for something to do.
“She was so tired and [said] she could not do nursing anymore,” Bennett said. “By the third or fourth class, she had the light back in her eyes. She did not want to go back to work, but she ended up … helping with hospice and she volunteers in different places.”
Individuals who were once addicted to drugs or alcohol, need further education or want to jump back into the career field are welcomed to join the program.
A recent participant was a homeschooled mom for 20 years. She told CWJC she had no formal education or skills.
“We said, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Bennett recalled. “To be able to homeschool kids — and her kids were like 4.0 grade average [students]. By the time class was over, she had a huge resume.”
The seventh class offered by the local CWJC will begin on Aug. 19. Bennett said the organization is currently accepting applications. Those interested in either signing up for the program or volunteering can find out more information by visiting christianwomensjobs.org or calling 665-9681.
In related Kiwanis news, scholarship winners Walker Valley High graduates Katherine Bishop and Jennings Kelley were recognized at a recent meeting.
Both received the $1,500 scholarship for their scholastic achievement in addition to their community activities.
Bishop plans to attend Presbyterian College in the fall where she will be a member of the Lady Blue Hose golf team. She will major in business administration with a concentration in management.
Her Key Club activities included shopping for underprivileged children at Christmas, ringing bells for the Salvation Army, judging the 4-H speaking contest and helping with the Kiwanis pancake breakfast.
Kelley plans to attend Maryville College with a double major in English and international studies.
She served as an officer in her Key Club and was a recipient of a Kiwanis grant for her “Bibs for Babes” project.