I was lucky enough to speak at every one of our church services on 10/4/2009 to introduce the Career Assistance Ministry to our parish. Here are my remarks:
"December 2, 1991 was a day I will never forget. I, along with 49 other people, was laid off from my job for economic reasons. I suffered the humiliation of being escorted out of the building and being made to come back at night to empty my desks and take out my personal possessions. This was devastating because I had worked my way through college and had, in fact, worked since I was 17 years old. I couldn’t imagine NOT working. It was probably the saddest Christmas I could ever remember. I can remember the humiliation of telling people that I had lost my job and keep in mind, this was at a time when there weren’t many job losses.
But we all know that in this day and time, layoffs have become the norm versus the exception. In fact, in the state of Alabama we have over a 10% unemployment rate. That is why I feel such a passion for the ministry we are beginning today: OLV Career Ministry (or OCM for short). We have a committee that began working on this issue just a few months ago. BJ Heard headed up our group that consisted of Eugene Maitrejean, Jim and Annette Christiansen, Mike Burns and myself. We have worked together to put together a process to reach out and help those in who are unemployed and underemployed. And notice that I did not say “in our parish” because we believe, with Msgr. Rohling and Fr. Rick’s support, that we must help anyone is suffering due to loss of work.
Here’s how it works:
Job Seekers: Make contact with BJ! He will be in the Social Hall with brochures describing the ministry. We plan to provide job search skills training as well as information on where this training can be found. We have entered into amazing partnerships with churches and organizations all over the city who are working in this area. You will have access to vast on-line and written resources as well as personal support. Monthly meetings will be announced in the bulletin. Come to the parish hall after Mass!
Career partners: Those of you in the parish who have the ability to stay in close contact with someone who is trying to find employment. You don’t have to know how to write a resume but you do need to know how to care and to pick up the phone and call the Job Seeker to offer encouragement. We need people who are willing to step up and walk this journey with the Job Seeker. Come to the parish hall and find out details on how you can help.
Career Advisors: Those of you in the parish who know stuff or you have a great network. You know how to review a resume, you know how to do interviews, you know how to help people dress appropriately, or you have contacts. We have been humbled from folks who have found out through word of mouth about the ministry and already contacted us saying, “I know how to do financial planning!” “I can input resumes for people.” This is a lot like trying to learn how to date again after the loss of a spouse and you have this expertise. We want to see you in the social hall.
Prayer Chain: We are so blessed to have a prayer chain under the direction of Kurt Sanford who has committed to pray for the specific needs of our candidates. That is what separates us from secular efforts. This group will help you with your spiritual needs.
Here’s what I know for sure: My layoff story has a happy ending. I ended up starting a highly successful consulting business that now has over 260 clients. I am so blessed. Friends and colleagues came forth and offered support and pulled me up from the depths of depression. None of us makes it alone. I am so thankful!
Gary Roden and Roman Selig, standing behind me are the face of this ministry. Both, through no fault of their own, have been laid off from their jobs. They represent a population that is sadly growing. They need work NOW. Can you walk over to the Parish Hall lobby after Mass and volunteer your services? Can you actively be on the look-out for jobs and get this information to our committee? Can you donate a book to our Career library? Are you going to turn your back on them? There are 3 keys to human behavior: Awareness, Accountability and Action. You know the need. You know what the ministry is. Here’s the final thing I know for sure. Networking is “hello, how are you and what’s in it for me. Networthing is “hello, how are you, and what can I do for you?” Let’s add to the networth of our entire parish through our actions of giving commitment and support to one another. God bless you."