BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — Christian Women’s Job Corps sites in Philadelphia, Miss., and San Marcos, Texas, have received this year’s top honors from the Woman’s Missionary Union Foundation.
The two CWJCs, which receive a $1,800 grant each, are part of WMU’s national network to equip disadvantaged women for life and employment, offering weekly Bible studies and job training, while also pairing them with mentors for encouragement and accountability.
CWJC of Philadelphia, Miss., established in 2008, offers a Jobs for Life program that includes computer basics, budget training and a clothes closet with clothing appropriate for job interviews.
Site coordinator Sandi Lewis added that the site’s one-on-one mentoring sets it apart from secular training programs in the community.
And the site’s Jobs for Life curriculum “is biblically-based,” Lewis said, “so it addresses issues that [other skills training] programs do not.”
Lewis said the site will use the WMU grant to purchase additional GED resources and computer tables for use during classes. Currently, the nine computers used in training are on tables that are too high to comfortably use in an hour-long class, Lewis said.
“There are enough roadblocks to overcome for our ladies,” she said, “and having them practice computer skills at desks that are at the correct level will make the process easier and more comfortable.”
Lewis said she can see God’s faithfulness over the past year, with the Philadelphia site enlisting certified volunteer educators to lead job and computer skills training as well as financial gifts, educational tools and, most importantly, committed mentors.
At the Texas CWJC site, named Hands of Hope, volunteer leaders likewise focus on job and life skills, Bible study, academics and GED tutoring. The site opened in 2005.
LaDean Williamson, a member of the Hands of Hope advisory council, said the site is the only adult education program in the San Marcos area which offers daily Bible study and a personal mentor for each student.
The San Marcos site will use its grant to fund childcare and transportation needs of students, Williamson said.
“Each semester we have applicants who can’t enroll in our classes because they can’t arrange adequate, affordable childcare,” she said. “We will use this grant to extend our ministry by making childcare available and helping with transportation for participants.”
Becky Ellison, state consultant for Texas CWJC/Christian Men’s Job Corps (CMJC), said the grant will help Hands of Hope take the pressure off moms.
“With the obstacle of childcare out of the way, God can begin to restore and heal women, which will, in turn, restore and strengthen our families,” Ellison said. “This will have a generational impact.”
The Mississippi and Texas sites are among more than 200 registered and certified CWJC/CMJC sites across the country, all ministries of Woman’s Missionary Union, which is based in Birmingham, Ala.
Roberta Byars, a Bible instructor and mentor at the Philadelphia site, said it is a privilege to witness women “begin to see and experience the beautiful life that God has planned for them. I have watched them grow closer to God and gain confidence in themselves.”
Mary Watkins, for example, came to CWJC of Philadelphia in 2011 as a participant and described it as “one of the greatest experiences I ever had in a learning setting.”
Impressed with the volunteer leaders and ministry, Watkins completed the program and also became a mentor, completing the requisite 13-week mentor training class.
For Lewis, her calling to help women expanded after retiring in January 2011 after 20 years working full-time in the insurance business.
“I saw the ladies and the ministry needed more attention than I could give while working,” Lewis reflected. “I believe in CWJC as a ministry that can really reach and meet a need. I am sure this is where God wants me to be.”
For Williamson in San Marcos, Hands of Hope is a blessing to her as well as the participants.
“If I can do anything to help a woman in her relationship with Jesus and help her see the choices available to her, I want to do so,” Williamson said. “I love seeing the light come on!”
To learn more about CWJC/CMJC, visit www.wmu.com/jobcorps.
To be considered for a CWJC site award, a site must complete an application with information about their site and what the grant would be used to fund. All applications are reviewed by the national CWJC advisory board which is comprised of leaders in CWJC who serve in various capacities. The advisory board then sends their recommendations to the WMU Foundation; the WMU Foundation reviews the findings of the advisory board and makes the final selection.
Kristin Easterling, a senior at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., is a former intern with the national WMU communications team. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).