WMU awards 3 job corps grants

Baptist Press
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Posted: Sep 30, 2013 5:22 PM
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) -- Christian Women Job Corps sites in three Southern states were awarded grants this year from the Woman's Missionary Union and its foundation.

The Lee County CWJC in Auburn, Ala., the CWJC of the Golden Triangle in Starkville, Miss., and the Greater Arlington CWJC in Arlington, Texas, will each receive about $1,200 from the CWJC endowment managed by the WMU Foundation.

The Lee County CWJC has ministered the past six years by focusing on life skills and job skills, raising self-esteem and self-confidence.

"We do so much more than just resumes, mock interviews and dressing for success," explained Lynn Bell, board secretary of CWJC of Lee County. "We try to help the entire person -- mind, body and spirit -- and focus on each individual growing spiritually. Some participants have never owned their own Bible before coming to CWJC."

The Lee County center will use its funds to purchase new computers and printers for students, print recruitment materials and purchase study books to help with GED tutoring, Bell said.

The Auburn center has graduated 79 women during the past six years, and serves an average of 20 women annually. The center has one paid staff member and utilizes volunteers including 25 local educators who participate weekly, plus community leaders and professionals who commit to single sessions.

The CWJC of the Golden Triangle was founded in 2009 and serves women in Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties.

"CWJC is not about 'fixing' what is wrong with our participants," said Amanda Thornton, site coordinator of Golden Triangle CWJC. "This ministry is about change and our volunteers work to empower women to make the changes necessary to reach their goals. We believe that each woman has the capacity for change and growth by the way of the Holy Spirit which requires us to focus on their strengths, talents, goals and experiences."

The Mississippi center will use their grant to provide financial assistance to 20 participants to supplement gasoline and childcare costs.

"It is our goal to retain more participants in the CWJC ministry by eliminating the potential costs of gas and childcare that typically hinder their attendance," Thornton said "Gas assistance will be dispersed to participants who express a dire need and are traveling more than 20 miles one way to CWJC class each day."

The Mississippi center has graduated 79 women and serves an average of 35 women annually, utilizing the Jobs for Life curriculum and offering classes on the Bible, money management, business math, communications, anger management, computer skills and health and nutrition, among other topics.

The Greater Arlington CWJC has served women since 2005, providing job training many would not be able to afford, said Julie Forrester, Greater Arlington CWJC executive director and site coordinator.

"Without CWJC's tuition-free job skills program, many women would not be able to obtain crucial job training and be unemployed," Forrester said. "Arlington is home to The University of Texas at Arlington and Tarrant County Community College, but their fees for job training courses are unaffordable for many women."

The Arlington center will use their grant for computer-related improvements.

"We will upgrade software and purchase new equipment to increase efficiency for our participants," Forrester said. "All improvements will contribute to enhanced job skills preparation in an effort to remain competitive in today's job market."

The Arlington center has graduated 78 women since 2012, when more than 170 volunteers served over 4,000 hours. The center's job skills curriculum includes Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, resume writing and interviewing skills, while personal development classes focus on a daily Bible study, time management and healthy boundaries.

"One of the main aspects I respect about the CWJC ministry is that it is all about second chances and individual responsibility is required on the part of each participant," Forrester said. "I think it is vitally important that we provide women a hand up rather than a handout."

Overall, there are 159 registered and certified CWJC and Christian Men's Job Corps (CMJC) sites, and several of these serve participants in multiple locations at satellite sites. Of these sites, 120 offer CWJC, 10 offer CMJC, and 29 offer both. In 2012, 11,080 staff and volunteers served approximately 4,250 participants. According to independentsector.org, the estimated value of volunteer time for 2012 is $22.14 per hour. With more than 3.7 million volunteer hours served in 2012, CWJC/CMJC had an economic impact of more than $82 million based on this estimate.

Founded by national WMU in 1997, CWJC provides a Christian environment to equip disadvantaged women for life and employment through biblical nourishment. Women receive training in life skills to help them attain education, job readiness and self-sufficiency. Each participant is paired with a mentor to guide, encourage and keep them accountable.

For more information or to find a job corps site near you, visit wmu.com/jobcorps.

Laura Wilson, a senior at University of Alabama at Birmingham, interned this summer on the Corporate Communications Team of the Woman's Missionary Union. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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