Making a Difference with Jobs for Life
Few things are more difficult than being unemployed or underemployed. I know, as I’ve been there. Your self-worth suffers, your dignity suffers, and it is really a heart wrenching time. However, as God so often does, He used this experience for my good and his glory and in doing so opened my heart and provided me with the time and experience to help others working through the same situation.
I volunteer as a mentor at Jobs for Life (JfL), a Christian nonprofit organization that helps men and women of varying backgrounds experience the dignity of work–through honest relationships, mentoring, Biblically-based training, and an ongoing community of support. According to the JfL website churches today generally fight poverty by primarily providing food, clothing, financial assistance, and housing. All of these are good things but only 2% of the time do churches address the issue of employment when helping others. But without employment, and the means to provide for themselves and their families, the cycle continues. So what if we flipped the list and equipped churches and people to start helping their community find meaningful work? What if we started lending a hand instead of just a handout?
Our class meets at Dorcas Ministries for 8 weeks in the Spring and Fall on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6:00-8:00. Classes are not hard work in fact, they are quite enjoyable and if you’re like me, you’ll develop wonderful relationships and learn a thing or two along the way. I invite you to join me as we always welcome additional mentors and business partners to help train the students and assist in placing them in meaningful employment.
This past spring at JfL I mentored Will, a 29-year-old who struggles with learning and minor social disabilities. Will is a hard worker who gives it his all and although frustrated by not finding employment immediately following our class, he persevered. We met together every week over the summer to review job postings and submit applications. During that time we forged a close relationship. Over the last month, Will secured two interviews and, being nervous about them, we worked through mock interviews before each one so he could practice answering interview questions. My advice to him was “just be yourself and the people will see the hard working, dedicated person that you are.” Will was hired in the last two weeks and now works with a highly functioning autistic young man to help him with his daily living skills. Will’s comment to me after being hired was “I guess God does have a plan for me after all”. Praise God!
I have learned a few things during my time volunteering at JfL. One thing God has taught me is that while we may be working for one thing (helping someone find employment), His plan may be different. I’m the type of person who enjoys seeing the fruits of my labor, and I did get frustrated when I didn’t see the results of my efforts. But my outlook was changed when I received an email from a former student. He said,
“At first I signed up with the hopes of finding a job, I just didn't know I would end up finding myself.”
“Despite the fact that life became very difficult since I graduated from Jobs for Life, I am still content with life. For I know God has a plan for me and that's something no one can take from me.”
He finished the email with this comment and it brought me to my knees, “Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. Had it not been for that class, I would have lived my life looking down, feeling worthless and thinking I had no right to be happy, just the way it always was.”
That email changed my perspective and now, to me, it’s not what you see happening on the outside of a person that’s important but what God is doing on the inside of the person that matters most.
To find out more go to the Dorcas Website.