CWJC celebrates fifth anniversary; new video details success stories

by Sammie Jo Barstow, posted Wednesday, March 13, 2002 (20 years ago)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)--How far is the journey from utter hopelessness to a life full of joy and hope?

It might be as long as the path from welfare to a salaried job. Perhaps it would be traveling from not being able to provide for yourself and your children to developing skills and abilities in parenting and household management. It could be the distance from feeling your life is of no value to finding confidence in a personal relationship with Christ.

Terri, Sheryl, and Stacey can answer that question. They live in different geographic locations and in some ways their stories differ, but in many ways they are similar. Each begins with a tale of hopeless defeat, but that's not the end of their stories. In fact, they might say that, even after the changes made in their lives during the past few years, their real stories are just beginning.

A single mother and a recovering alcoholic, Terri lives in Grover Beach, Calif., an economically depressed area. At one of the lowest times of her life, she passed a Christian bookstore one day and picked up a free paper describing Christian Women's Job Corps (CWJC). She was intrigued by the offer of help with job readiness training. Terri was at that moment considering suicide, and she remembers thinking that she would try "one last thing." She now feels she owes her life to the help she received from Christian Women's Job Corps.

Terri is one of many women who tell similar stories of life change. Her testimony is a part of a new video, "There is Hope: The Continuing Story of Christian Women's Job Corps," a new release from Woman's Missionary Union in Birmingham, Ala.

The video's release coincides with the celebration of CWJC's 5th anniversary. Launched March 1, 1997, CWJC endeavors to provide women in need a hand-up, not a "hand out," toward sustaining successful employment and meeting their life goals. A common denominator among the women who have benefited from CWJC is finding hope in their previously hopeless lives.

The new video gives examples of women who have found such hope through CWJC.

Sheryl, of Rock Hill, S.C., had only a 7th grade education and had never held a job before her training at CWJC. Her father had provided for Sheryl, her mother, and her brother, although even those living conditions were meager. His death left them destitute. Sheryl says she had no confidence in herself and was reluctant to even talk with people. After her participation in CWJC and significant assistance from her mentor, Sheryl now proudly tells about driving her own car to her job as a housekeeper for a motel where she is a dependable worker and has been given increasing responsibilities in the two years since she began work.

Stacey, of Lubbock, Texas, is a single mother who says CWJC helped her realize that she was not a failure by providing the love and support she so desperately needed. She recently received the Sybil Bentley Dove award providing money to help her as she begins training as a radiology technician, one of her main goals developed in CWJC training.

The success of CWJC can be attributed to its uniqueness, said Trudy Johnson, national CWJC director.

Two main elements separate CWJC from other job readiness training programs: Bible study and Christian mentoring. Each woman participates in Bible study and is encouraged to begin and/or grow in her personal relationship with Christ.

Each participant is also assigned a mentor, a trained Christian woman who walks the journey alongside her, providing encouragement and support. Shared Bible study, prayer and friendship are vital parts of this mentoring relationship. Mentors may fill a variety of roles, including offering suggestions on childcare, helping with GED study, transportation, driver's training, or assistance with meal planning, household management, and budgeting. Mentoring relationships are molded around the needs of the CWJC woman.

Other elements of every CWJC program include a covenant between each mentor and participant; networking (with community agencies); needs assessment; an advisory council (the working governmental body for policy and decision making); certification training (for coordinators); and evaluation (ongoing).

Registered CWJC sites are in most states, with many of these states having multiple sites. Several international pilots are under exploration. Each site is responsible for its own funding and has a full-time site coordinator who has attended National Certification Training for Site Coordinators.

The ultimate goal for any woman who participates in CWJC is to become self-sufficient, noted Johnson. A CWJC participant is said to be self-sufficient when she can provide safe and affordable housing for herself and her family, is not dependent on public assistance, has reliable transportation and the ability to maintain it, dependable childcare, a healthy support network, necessary life skills to maintain a job and personal responsibilities, and sustained employment with benefits for three months. When a CWJC participant achieves each of these elements, she graduates from the program.

"My birthday wish for CWJC is to see the CWJC Special fund reach the $1 million mark," Johnson said. "Reaching this goal would insure the financial future of this vital ministry."

Order "There is Hope: The Continuing Story of Christian Women's Job Corps" and other CWJC materials by calling WMU Customer Service at 1-800-968-7301. For more information, visit www.wmu.com and click on "Christian Women's Job Corps" under "WMU Ministries."


(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: THERE IS HOPE.

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