By Connie Lewis Leonard
Twelve years ago, Deneen Tiemann looked around and saw the great needs of women and children due to the area economy and lack of resources. She felt led to begin the process of establishing Erath County’s very own Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC), in Dublin, TX.
CWJC is a ministry of the Woman’s Missionary Union, and is a ministry that changes lives and ministers to the whole person. “We recognize that every person has strengths, and we seek to draw from those strengths as we minister to the women who grace our doors develop more independence.” Based on Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’” declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” every woman deserves to know Christ’s love and help to make a future for herself.
CWJC exists to minister to women in need with a hand up, not a hand out. This is done by providing a vast array of life and job skills training, Bible study, and a missions context in which women help women. Dwelling Place CWJC offers: healthy, positive relationships, a move from dependency, spiritual encouragement, life and job skills training, and a “sister” to walk alongside.
The Mission Statement of Dwelling Place Ministries CWJC is “to Serve, Educate, and Empower Women for Life. We believe that meeting the needs of women ‘where they live’ both literally and figuratively will provide them with a greater sense of place and belonging and in turn give them what it takes to ‘Really Live.’ He is our Dwelling Place!”
Participants must be a minimum of 18 years old. Some are young women with small children. Some may be reentering the work force after their children begin school. Others may be displaced by divorce, death of a spouse, or family violence. Some may have worked before, but many never have, and find their lives in a state of financial and emotional distress from lack of resources.
The classes offered through Dwelling Place Ministries CWJC are: Money Management, Computer Skills, Job Skills, Communication/Boundaries, Personal Development, Women’s Group, Home Management, Family Development, Sewing, cooking, arts and crafts.
Classes are held two semesters: September through December and January through May. The classes are held each Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Sue Owen, Community Liaison and Volunteer Coordinator, said, “We have found that the key element that helps participants apply what they learn is the environment of trust and unconditional love, which we are better able to establish if they are in classes for a longer term, rather than one semester only.”
In addition to the classes, every participant is involved in regular Bible study each Tuesday and Wednesday prior to class. Each woman is provided a mentor to encourage and support her during the course of the program. The “Will Do Good” Thrift Market provides work-study opportunities for the participants as well as financial support for the ministry itself.
Meals are provided each class day by local churches. Tiemann said, “We have a precious volunteer, Ms. Ann McDonald, 80+ years young, who coordinates these meals. Her work is a blessing to the participants each day.”
Over the past nine years, 152 women walked through the doors of Dwelling Place CWJC in some capacity. The full program runs from September to May, in keeping with a standard school calendar, aiding those who have children. About 40 percent of the women complete the entire program and get a diploma. This number is much less than the total number of women served. Tiemann explained, “As a strength based program, each woman who comes through our doors has their needs assessed based on what they hope to achieve. Some may only want to learn computer skills; others need help with resumes and work wear clothes to help them secure a better job. We even have women who come to our facility to do community service hours while attending classes. Some women begin classes, drop out, and then come back later when they are truly ready to address the life changes that will keep them on a path to future success. Change is hard, even when it is for the better.”
Women who come to Dwelling Place Ministries are directed to community resources available to them. This includes housing, transportation, clothing, food, and financial assistance. “We have resources available to those who need help leaving unhealthy living situations, such as family violence or substance abuse. We also have a work wear closet which helps to provide work place attire for the ladies who are preparing for interviews or entering the work force for the first time,” Tiemann said.
Dwelling Place Ministries has two staff involved with the day-to-day operations of CWJC. They also have three employees who serve in positions related to the retail “Will Do Good” thrift market and building maintenance. The Director, all seven teachers, financial assistant, and meal coordinator are all volunteers, as are all the members of our Board of Directors. Tiemann said, “Even those who are on the small payroll, donate lots of their time, each recognizes that the needs in our community are great, and want to give back.”
Incorporated in 2006 as a 501c3 non-profit, fall 2016 will be the 10-year anniversary. Each CWJC site is an autonomous organization and is required to attain its own operating capital. “At Dwelling Place CWJC we rely on the generous support of area churches and individuals who give monthly and one time gifts to the work of the ministry. We accept gently used goods to keep the ‘Will Do Good’ thrift market open. As a women’s facility, we always need personal care items, toilet paper, and diapers for children. Individuals who shop at the store help support our ministry. We also have many community partners who help support us through our fundraising events,” said Sue Owens.
Some of the fundraisers include a “Change for Change” campaign involving area churches, individuals, and organizations. Past fundraisers have included the CWJC Luau and Trip Give Away, Spring Fling, Garage Sales, Victorian Christmas and Dinner, and Auctions. They are currently planning a Luke Wade concert for the fall. Ongoing monetary support is always a need, as it keeps the lights on and workers paid.
There are many opportunities for people to get involved at CWJC beyond financial support. Mentors are assigned a few weeks into the program and are asked to commit for one year. Instructors teach one class per week and are asked to teach September through May. Speakers who would like to share a special talent or skill can contact CWJC to volunteer their services.
All Potential mentors and teachers and guest speakers may inquire by calling 254-445-2228. More information can be found on the website at www.cwjcdublin.org or on Facebook. Individuals may stop by anytime to talk with a CWJC staff member and fill out a volunteer contact form. Mentor and volunteer training is provided throughout the year.
In conclusion, Dwelling Place Ministries CWJC will continue impacting lives as they seek to minister and serve the women of Erath County and surrounding communities. Tiemann reminds us that, “Above all else we need ongoing prayer for the women we serve and willing hearts and hands to join us in serving others.”
Photos by Riley Studio and provided by CWJC