Marian Evans had seen the unfortunate scenario too often.
As a volunteer at the The Sycamore Tree, a ministry aiding needy families, she heard from women who wanted to improve their lives or provide more for their children — but lacked the means to pursue better work opportunities.
“I knew there are people here who need jobs, but don’t have the skills,” Evans says.
Then, she says, came a time of “praying and pondering” early last year. By that summer, Evans and Sharon Peacock began training as part of the first steps to launch a new ministry of women helping women develop career and life skills.
Soon, the Christian Women’s Job Corps of Blackshear will begin its outreach of mentoring, job training and biblical study, with Evans and Peacock serving as site coordinators.
CWJC of Blackshear will offer free classes beginning Sept. 1 to women age 18 years and up. The program’s aim is to help women escape poverty and develop productive lives, while developing a relationship with God.
The first half of the program will be a 12-week course hosted at Blackshear First Baptist Church, with classes taught Tuesday through Thursday mornings. Evans says the Pierce County Public Library has also offered use of its computers for some sessions.
“(Women) have to be willing to commit to responsibilities and regular attendance,” says Paige Ferrell, who serves on a 14-member advisory council providing program oversight and local expertise.
Classes designed to improve employability include computer basics, language and math, money management, and job skills, conducted along with regular Bible study. Evans says class topics were derived from a community survey asking women what they needed most.
Following the classroom period, participants will be paired with a program mentor for a series of one-on-one meetings over the next six months leading toward graduation.
“[Mentors] will help them set personal goals and keep them accountable for that,” Peacock says.
Organizers say they plan to tap into local resources, such as a the state Department of Labor and business owners, who can share what they need and seek out in a prospective employee and the steps necessary to become a more qualified applicant.
“We want employers to know [graduates] earned it. We didn’t just give it to them,” Evans says.
Others serving on the CWJC of Blackshear advisory council include Greg Benfield, Anne Clarke, Jeanne Crawford, Adam Ferrell, Lillie Green, Christy Joyner, Mark Joyner, Charlynn Prohaska, Greg Prohaska, Donna Tanner, Frank Tanner, Sue Thornton and Margaret Tuten.
Evans says the Blackshear CWJC is one of six in the state and only the second in South Georgia. The other is in Tifton.
Christian Women’s Job Corps is a ministry of the national Women’s Missionary Union. CWJC began in 1997 and now has over 175 sites across the United States.
• For more information about Christian Women’s Job Corps of Blackshear or to offer assistance, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 912-548-2147. A public information session is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. at Blackshear First Baptist Church, 670 Main St.
• A public information meeting is scheduled for Sunday, August 16, at 6 p.m. at Blackshear First Baptist Church.