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‘What can we do for the unemployed?’

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Several parishes throughout the archdiocese are trying to help job seekers

By Carmen M. Hubbard

ARCHDIOCESE — Ministries that offer help and advice to job seekers in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati continue to see an increase in the unemployed looking for assistance at parishes and agencies throughout the archdiocese.

According the U.S. Department of Labor, the national unemployment rate was 8.5 percent and 9.7 percent for the State of Ohio in March.

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CT/E.L. Hubbard

Whether parishes developed employment ministries in response to people who’ve been laid off recently or simply reinvigorated ongoing programs that enable professionals to network, parishioners say help is available to everyone of all faiths at no charge.

St. Charles Borromeo Church in Kettering hosts a five-session Job Readiness Program at 7 p.m. every Monday — now through May 11. Each meeting begins with prayer, Scripture and reflection from associate pastor Father Ron Haft and is facilitated by Gordy Fuchs, chairman of the parish’s social and justice commission.

“We said, ‘What can we do for the unemployed?’ and came up with the idea in February,” Father Haft said.

About eight people have attended the program, which offers help with updating resumes, provides interview techniques and practice as well as feature experts who work in human resources.

Fuchs says that people seeking support to find work is a social justice issue that must be addressed, and the parish is doing its part to meet people’s needs.

For more information about the Job Readiness Program at St. Charles Borromeo, call 937-434-6081.

In Anderson Township, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish has offered networking opportunities online and at the parish. Parishioners created a job search ministry last month to pair employers and potential workers in their respective fields.

IHM’s job search ministry meets at 7 p.m. every second and fourth Thursday of the month with a topic theme and guest speaker. The ministry also has a website for people to stay connected between meetings and lists area job postings.

The ministry is geared for the unemployed, underemployed and those in a job transition such as recent college graduates.

“I know so many people who’ve found jobs through networking. It’s really about who you know,” said Katie Wagoner, marketing director and Web master of the job search ministry at IHM.

“So many churches are starting up (employment ministries) right now, I think it’s a wonderful thing. But it’s not a cure-all for finding a job,” she added.

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CT/Jeff Unroe

Wagoner said it’s important to have a positive support system regardless of employment status.

“It’s good to be around people who are going through what you are, and there’s a number of things that the church has,” she said.

For more information about IHM’s Job Search Ministry call 513-388-4466 or visit groups.yahoo.com/group/IHOMAESOP/.

For those who’ve experienced sudden job loss, help is available to assist them in coping with the feelings associated when the unexpected happens.

“It’s pretty difficult to pick yourself up when dealing with feelings of loss and grief,” said Sandy Keiser, community education specialist and consultant for Catholic Charities of SouthWestern Ohio. “Many people had planned to be with the company until they retire, or they believed the company will take care of them. It’s really a shock.”

Keiser is the facilitator of two free upcoming programs.

“The Recession — Coping Skills in Uncertain Times” will be offered May 19 at noon at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County in Room 3B of the main branch in downtown Cincinnati.

The other program, “When Life Throws a Curve Ball: Learning to Live on Less,” will be held May 22, 7:30 p.m,, at Corpus Christi Church Undercroft on Springdale Road in Cincinnati.

The seminar will discuss coping skills, loss and stress and resources associated when faced with unemployment. Strategies for money management and meal planning from representatives of Consumer Credit Counseling Service and the Nutrition Council will be available.

“We’ve done a number of programs that deal with grief and loss regarding job loss. For example, people have said, ‘I’ve placed my trust and faith in the company.’ They move through strong feelings or they are sad and hurt and resentful. Keeping those feelings bottled up, it can come out later in varying degrees,” Keiser said.

Kindergarten teacher Nancy Bitters said she’s thankful to be among the employed. She remembers, however, being laid off from a part-time job in the mid-1980s while raising her small children. Being laid off, no matter how long ago was a “real shock,” she recalled.

She attends Keiser’s workshops to learn how to deal with grief in the event it happens again.

“Everybody needs someone to talk to,” she said. “I love that Sandy focuses on people’s strengths.”

Bitters is a teacher at St. Peter Claver Latin School for Boys in Over-the-Rhine. She encourages job seekers to work in a field that they enjoy doing.

For more information about upcoming programs sponsored by Catholic Charities SouthWestern Ohio, call Sandy Keiser at 513-241-7745. The RSVP deadline for “When Life Throws a Curve Ball: Learning to Live on Less” program is May 15.

What began with 30 people attending a monthly meeting to network has grown to more than 60 in the past six months at Good Shepherd Parish. The church hosts JUMPSTART, a faith-based career network that provides support for people who dealing with a job transition or seek career development.

JUMPSTART meets at 6:30 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month at Good Shepherd Parish in Montgomery. Its moderators are Larry Zimmer, Lisa Kaminski and Joan Woodward, parishioners at St. Margaret of York Church who are human resources and corporate executives. They refer to the ministry as an opportunity to network, however, programs are available to people seeking job leads.

“People believe in networking for life as part of their career,” Zimmer said. “Networking is a two-way street. I believe you can do it all of the time. For example, there are times when other people assist me or I assist them. Many opportunities are passed by word of mouth. It’s a great way to look for people and be able to identify candidates.”

St. Margaret of York parishioner Terri Shannon founded the ministry at the Loveland parish in 2004. As word of mouth spread about JUMPSTART, it was moved two years later to Good Shepherd to accommodate more people.

JUMPSTART has experts who discuss job search strategies, how to write a resume and the latest in technology of various networking websites to help find a job.

“You need to have an active network who can support you. It can serve as a reality check in order to succeed,” Woodward said.

For more information about JUMPSTART, call Good Shepherd Parish at 513-489-8815.

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