Site Coordinator Sue Bennett told the Cleveland Interagency Council the women who enter the Christian Women’s Job Corps face roadblocks in their lives.
“Do you all know what a roadblock is? You either get to go around them or you go over them or you go through them,” Bennett said. “Well, these ladies who come are not usually in the right place.”
The 16-week program allows participants to recognize the roadblocks in their lives. The curriculum, devotions and encouragement provide them with the drive to overcome their lives’ hurdles.
A common problem faced by the participants are skewed self-perceptions.
“When you have a perception, it is your perception. It does not necessarily mean it is the truth,” Bennett said. “Our ladies have a perception they are stupid.”
More than that, many come to the program with the opinion they will never amount to anything.
“When we speak truth to our ladies, it is like, ‘You mean I am not stupid? You mean, I could maybe do this?’” Bennett said. “We ask them what it is they would like to do. If they could reach for the stars, what would it be?”
Mentors step up alongside the participants to aid them through the free program. Teachers, participants and mentors meet every Tuesday from 8 a.m. to noon. Each class focuses on devotions, presentations from community members, biblical-based curriculum lessons, community resources and the development of a vocational plan.
All students learn budget management, basic car maintenance, computer efficiency, life skills, business etiquette, interviewing techniques, resume preparation, health and nutrition and how to have a healthy relationship.
There are three requirements for participants interested in joining the program:
n They must be 18 years of age.
n They must have a willingness to work.
n They must have a commitment to the program.
All graduates are expected to have missed no more than three classes, complete every assignment and write up a resume and a six-month vocational plan.
CWJC mentor Pat Cawood said her job, and that of other mentors, is to encourage the participants, to answer questions, model problem solutions and model self-sufficiency.
“The mentoring is something that is really quite different in the process,” Cawood said. “No mentor is perfect, either. We are just a little further down the path is all.”
Bennett invited Interagency members to attend the next graduation in June.
“I would love for you to come to graduation and just see where they were, some of our girls don’t even stand up to speak on the first day, and they have to get up behind the podium and share their stories [at graduation],” Bennett said. “It is pretty neat.”
More information can be found by visiting the organization’s website at christianwomensjobs.org.