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Jobs for Life changes lives

[caption id="attachment_5803" align="alignright" width="500" caption="Sylvester Willis graduated from the Jobs for Life class at Buckner's Longview Community Transformation Center in May 2012, where he learned faith-based principles of work and essential job skills."][/caption]

At the Buckner Community Transformation Center in Longview, Leilani Anderson sees a lot of emotional hardship.

“A lot of what I deal with has to do with low self-image,” said Anderson, Buckner case manager. “Many of the people who come to us have heard all their lives that they’re no good, that they’re not worthy, that they can’t get that job, that they can’t afford their payments. Many of them have come to us very beat up emotionally.”

That’s where Jobs for Life comes in. It’s a curriculum that helps people identify their skills and talents and determine what kinds of jobs they’re best suited for. It also teaches essential job search skills – how to complete an application, how to make a great impression in an interview, how to sell their skills and experience – that aren’t always common knowledge. But one of the most unique and attractive aspects of Jobs for Life is that it’s faith-based.

Mentors matter

One-on-one mentoring has made a big difference in Sylvester Willis’s life, who graduated from Jobs for Life in May. He did odd jobs in landscaping and construction and worked whenever needed for a Longview moving company for several months. In October, he landed a full-time job at Trinity Railroad Industry.

Throughout his time in Jobs for Life and during his job search, Willis and his mentor, First Baptist Church Executive Pastor David English, continued to meet and talk about life and next steps.

“The Buckner staff are really faithful in my life,” Willis said. “When I’m down and out, I talk to them. And I have a nice relationship with David English. He’s a good person to talk to. Anything that I need help with, he’ll try to help me with it. If I have any kind of problem, I call him. He’s been there for me.”

English said he’s seen remarkable change in Willis since they first met. When Sylvester first did a mock interview, English said he seemed awkward and uncomfortable. He improved after each mentioning session, growing in confidence as he applied the suggestions Anderson and English made and the skills he learned in Jobs for Life classes.

“I think he’ll move from simply earning a living to move to where his passion is,” English said. “And I think the sky is the limit at that point. I think he’ll be very successful as he moves to his passion and to what God’s really equipped him to do.”

Anderson said there has been a huge change in Willis’s demeanor since he found a full-time job. Now, he holds his head up high when he walks into a room.

“He attended the October Jobs for Life graduation ceremony and gave his testimony that night,” Anderson said. “He encouraged the newest graduates to hang in there and said that his relationship with God was the reason he stayed persistent and didn’t give up.”

Finding her calling

Voncia Costict was getting clothing from the Buckner Client Assistance Center at the CTC when a Jobs for Life flier caught her eye. She thought it might be just what she needed.

“Voncia had quite a bit of school under her belt, but she continued to change majors,” Anderson said. “She was lacking direction and didn’t know how to determine what she really wanted to do.”

Costict participated in Jobs for Life over the summer and graduated from the program in July. During her six weeks of training, she realized her true passion was mission work. She now volunteers in the Client Assistance Center once a week and said her most important takeaways from Jobs for Life are that she is special in God’s sight and that God has a purpose and plan for her life.

“It’s a feeling that I know I’m going somewhere and I’m learning something,” Costict said. “I’m around good people, I’ve got goals, I’ve got ambition, and everything that I felt bad about myself, that was only myself killing myself down.”

Costict is back in school now and will finish her bachelor’s degree at Kilgore College in two semesters. After that, she hopes to take the next step toward her dream of full-time mission work.

Confidence changes everything

Amy Williams moved back home to Longview from California in early 2012. She said her struggle with depression was her biggest barrier to finding a job.

“Depression, for me, was not having confidence in myself,” Williams said. “It was constantly feeling like I’m not worth it … And it keeps you from a lot of things. It keeps you from really wanting to go out there and do things.”

Williams found Buckner and Jobs for Life when she met Anderson at a job fair. She went through Jobs for Life classes in the spring and graduated in May. Since finishing the program, she found full-time employment as a youth career advisor at Workforce Solutions of East Texas. In her current position, she helps place teens in jobs and teaches them job skills, resume writing, interviewing skills and how to conduct a job search.

“My job is definitely full, but God has given me that confidence to realize that He will place me in the jobs that He wants,” Williams said. “My supervisor has even told me she probably wouldn’t have originally hired me for this type of position if it wasn’t for the confidence that she sees in me, as well as the growth she saw in me over the time period of Jobs for Life.

“I don’t deal with depression as much as I used to. You know, Jobs for Life gave me that confidence in myself, as well as reminding me that when I do feel down again that there are people in my church, there are people around me who can help me out, and God is right there and I can stop and pray any time.”

To learn more about Jobs for Life or to become a mentor to a Jobs for Life participant in Longview, please email Leilani Anderson.

NOTE: To see video interviews with some of our Jobs for Life grads, click here.

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