Sue Bennett, CWJC site director, wiped her tears away as she congratulated the graduates.
“These are six lives the Lord has changed forever,” Bennett said. “And to change their lives, he changes our lives. We are so blessed.”
The women in question were Connie Allen, Minoo Balast, Sonya Harden, Nichole McHone, Maureen Miller and Angie Nicholson Miller.
Each completed the 16-week program to speak in front of an audience of well-wishers and family members.
Angie Miller said she home schooled her children for 20 years prior to joining the CWJC. Her problem was thinking no one would want to hire her. She said she did not see the skills she had to offer.
“I have a lot of skills I never would have realized if not for Christian Women’s Job Corps,” she said. “Thank you for not giving up on me. “
Every enrollee in the program completed the Jobs for Life curriculum. This includes numerous nights of homework, several projects and a lot of self-analysis.
Mentors are paired with students to help them along the way.
“It took a while for them to get through to me,” Angie Miller said. “It took a while. They are very patient.”
Those mentoring during the last 16 weeks included Alice Terry, Patricia Cawood, Suzanne Burns, Marilyn Kearney, June Bow and Jackie Arnold.
Angie Miller’s story was unique to her, but her gratefulness and sense of accomplishment were shared by her peers.
McHone said she never made it to her high school graduation. She always chose the easier path. The corps helped her to consider what she wanted out of her future.
“I didn’t find Christian Women’s Job Corps. It found me,” McHone said. “I was looking for something to help me find direction in my life.”
Cawood, a mentor, called Balast to the front at the beginning of the ceremony to congratulate her on her recent approval to be an American citizen. Cawood then read a letter from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker in Balast’s honor.
Eric Watson, state representative, shook hands with the six graduates before hugging Cawood.
He encouraged the corps to continue their good work, “Making a difference for one of us is what makes this community better.”
Jay McCluskey, North Cleveland Baptist Church senior pastor, encouraged the grads to LEARN: Listen to God’s word every day; Enlist friends who will challenge you; Ask questions; Remember what you’ve learned; and Now do it.
A part of the curriculum instructs students to write a resume, practice job skills and map out a life and career plan. Lessons in proper workplace attire, appropriate behavior at work and effective communication are taught.
Edna Polier, Jobs for Life teacher, walked with the ladies every step of the way. She reminded her six students of three important tools they now hold.
“First, you have the word of God to direct your paths,” Polier said as she reminded them of Proverbs 3:5-7.
She said the second tool was the life plans students developed in the class.
“This was not just a plan we wrote up on paper,” Polier said. “This is a plan [for students to follow]. If you need to make changes, you can.”
Polier closed by telling her former students to remember where they have come from. She reminded them, “It’s late, but never too late.”
The six then stood up and recited Jeremiah 29:11.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,” the students recited. “Plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”