“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13
In an effort to combat poverty and restore hope, the Employment Service at the Care Center has launched two new programs—The Employed for Life Workshop and the Job Fair that collectively work to provide Chicagoland and suburban residents the opportunity to network and build the skills necessary to obtain employment.
While the recorded unemployment rate for Illinois decreased from 10.5% in 2010 to 9.8% in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in reality, these rates are significantly higher. The current numbers do not reflect part-time workers, individuals who didn’t apply for unemployment benefits and individuals who haven’t actively searched for a job in the last month. Finding a job has become a job in itself, causing not only an economic crunch, but leading to depression and anxiety, according to the Pew Research Center. In response, Willow’s Care Center created an employment services department.
The Care Center’s Employment Services started about a year ago and served 488 guests; it has grown about 25 percent in the last year. The department offers counseling and mentoring to those who are currently seeking a job and counselors provide assistance in writing cover letters and resumes. In an effort to expand its services, the team developed Employed for Life Workshops that are designed to encourage and instruct job seekers about God’s vision of work. The workshops take place quarterly and provide people with the opportunity to learn ways in which they can better navigate the job market and acquire new skill sets.
“While it is vitally important to help people find a job, it is just as important to keep them encouraged while they are in transition,” says Anne Rand, Justice and Employment Services program manager.
The first workshop (October 24, 2012) brought in 120 people and the second was scheduled for January 23, 2013. As a means of further ensuring that employment needs are met, the Care Center’s Employment Service also hosts a job fair on January 29, six days after the workshop. With employers receiving hundreds of standard resumes and cover letters, it is often difficult for employers to call back prospective employees for a call-back interview. The job fair enables employers and employees to meet one-on-one, allowing for first time interviews that might not have been possible without the fair. This one-on-one meeting allows employers to learn more about the interviewee’s work ethic and relational skills, often increasing the likelihood of a second interview.
“As much as it is our responsibility to prepare ourselves for job searching and job readiness, ultimately we turn to the Lord to throw open the doors of opportunity,” says Anne. “This is when our prayers come to fruition—giving you the words to say when interviewing, touching the heart of the interviewer to offer you a position, and preparing you for successful employment.”
Along with these two programs, the Employment Services team also has a website where community residents can post employment opportunities. It has grown to serve over 13,000 members. With the growing demand of services, the team hopes to be able to expand its hours and services once the new Care Center is built: new services would include entrepreneurship training, bi-lingual tutoring, and support groups.
For more information, email the employment services team at firstname.lastname@example.org