Abundant Life: Kelly's Story

We would like for you all to meet Kelly, one of our amazing graduates. Kelly is originally from Florida and came to Alabama in 2009 for a job. Due to an economic downturn, she was laid off from the job, which led her to enter into a difficult time of life. This season of life led her to The Lovelady Center.

Towards the end of her time at The Lovelady Center, Kelly was connected with WorkFaith Birmingham. Kelly shares that, when she first started the workshop, she did not think that there was anything she could learn from it because she already had good work experience. But after the workshop, she said, “It was a reality check that I needed.”

Kelly states that the relationships with the WorkFaith staff, Andy, Pam, and Tamika, made a positive impact in her life. The most impactful part of the workshop for her was the mock interview day. On the second Thursday of the workshop, WorkFaith students participate in practice interviews with hiring professionals and retired hiring professionals from throughout the city of Birmingham. Each student has two opportunities to practice interviewing and two opportunities to observe other students interviewing. Kelly shared that she is grateful for how the interviewers told the truth to help her realize what she needed to work on. She said, “They gave me hope, confidence, and tools to go out and get the job that I was capable of doing.”

Many of our students must explain gaps in their employment history during interviews with prospective employers. Kelly remarked that WorkFaith helped her know how to answer these questions. Kelly said that WorkFaith helped prepare her so that she was able to obtain employment only a few weeks after graduating the program. Kelly began working at an automotive group in automotive accounting and titles. A year and a half later, Kelly is still working for this group and is also scheduled to graduate with her Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies this August.

At WorkFaith, we desire to maintain relationships with our students after they graduate from our program. Kelly shared that she is grateful for this relationship. She said, “It is just so nice to know that WorkFaith is there to help.” When asked what she would like people to know about WorkFaith she shared, “It is a valuable resource. It doesn’t matter if you have a criminal record, if you haven’t worked at all, or if you haven’t worked in 20 years. These are people who are willing to go out on a limb for you if you will take it. They want to see you succeed.”

We are so thankful for the opportunity to be a small part of what God is doing in the lives of our students. Would you join us in praying that each of our students would experience the abundant life that Jesus offers them?

Serving the God of Chances

emiliano-bar-1266993-unsplash.jpg

I have always heard the saying, “God is a God of second chances.” But the more that I read Scripture, I am convinced that God is not just a God of a second chance, but He is a God of chances. You do not have to go very far into the Bible to realize that God gives many chances. Let’s just take Exodus for example. God performs mighty works to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. And what is the first thing they do when they cross the Red Sea? They start complaining about being thirsty. God had just parted the Red Sea for them! And what does God do? He gives them water. Then, they complain about hunger, and God gives them food. Then, they complain about thirst again. God gives them water. There is already more than a second chance. Next, as God is speaking the Law to Moses, giving the very thing that will set the Israelites apart from all the other people on the earth as God’s people, they build a golden calf to worship rather than worship God. What in the world? Now, you are probably thinking, “Well, God did punish them for that.” You are right; there were consequences. But with the gravity of that offense, it is a wonder upon wonders that God did not just call it quits and find another group of people. Instead, He reveals His glory to Moses and says, “The Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth.” If that does not convince you, what about Romans 5:8? “But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Or, what about 2 Peter 3:9? “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.”

What does this mean for WorkFaith? At WorkFaith, we see people every day who are in need of chances from other people, not just from God. The majority of our clients have criminal histories of varying degrees. Apparently, we are not alone in this. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Survey of State Criminal History Information Systems, “As many as 100 million Americans have criminal records.” We see that our clients with criminal histories face barriers in obtaining employment that others do not. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, “Background Checking—The Use of Criminal Background Checks in Hiring Decisions,” “More than 60 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals are unemployed one year after being released.” As we have learned more of the realities facing those with convictions, we have been asking ourselves, “Who will join us in giving these individuals chances?” Who will choose to embrace the character of God and give not just a second chance but many chances? So as a team, we want to ask you to join our Lord in the business of giving chances. Will you pray about what that looks like in your life? Would your church consider coming alongside formerly incarcerated individuals to offer them chances? Would your business consider hiring individuals with felony and misdemeanor convictions to offer them chances? We believe that, as Christ followers, we must follow Him in giving chances. If you are interested in learning more about how you, your church, or your business can be involved in God’s work of chances, please reach out to our Executive Director, Andy Blake at andy.blake@workfaithbhm.org.


All This is From God

Glen with his WorkFaith instructor, Deborah Smith.

Glen with his WorkFaith instructor, Deborah Smith.

At WorkFaith, one of the great privileges we have is hearing our workshop participants’ stories. Glen’s story is one that we are privileged to know, and now be a small part of. Glen recently entered a different world after spending over 23 years in prison. Glen was directed to a WorkFaith workshop where our staff was able to walk alongside him, sharing up-to-date information to help him in his job search. We believe that Glen has skills and abilities given by God and desire to equip him to use those skills as he works. Glen is now working two part-time jobs and working towards obtaining a full-time position. What we learned from Glen’s story is that we serve a God who is in the business of re-entry. We are convinced that God’s heart is to see people restored and reconciled to Him no matter the challenges that they are facing, and we are also convinced that He has asked us to step into places where we are able to walk alongside individuals with stories like Glen’s. Because, we believe that all of this from God.

Read the rest of our April eblast

.

Celebrating FIVE YEARS of empowering lives through work & faith!

March eblast header.png

Since launching WorkFaith workshops in March of 2014, God has sustained this ministry through faithful volunteers, donors, partners and clients. We are celebrating all that he has done in the last five years. 

  • More than 700 WorkFaith graduates 

  • 87 workshops in multiple locations across Birmingham

  • 80 percent of clients have obtained employment after graduation

  • More than 100 volunteers have served WorkFaith clients

  • Key partnerships with The Lovelady Center and The Salvation Army

  • Over 150 employers have hired WorkFaith graduates

  • Over 275 individual, church and corporate donors have given nearly $1.5 million to empower WorkFaith clients

In addition, every graduate has learned about God's good design, the problem of brokenness in the world, and God's restoration plan for their lives.  

Read the rest of the March newsletter here.

Highlights from 2018 and goals for 2019

February 2019.jpg

What God Did in 2018...

Because of God's faithfulness in 2018, WorkFaith empowered 241 individuals with interview skills, quality resumes, career development, confidence, and the Gospel. 

  • 67 graduates at The Salvation Army

  • 162 graduates at The Lovelady Center

  • 12 graduates in additional classes

God also added to the WorkFaith team last year with the addition of four new board members, and both an Executive Director and a Director of Client Resources.
 
Plans for WorkFaith in 2019...

This year WorkFaith is pursuing some important goals to better serve Birmingham. These plans include:

  • Launching an aftercare initiative to empower graduates to overcome common barriers. 

  • Expanding career possibilities through new employer partnerships. 

  • Increasing local church involvement through Empower 50 and volunteer opportunities.

We hope you will consider partnering with us in 2019 as we seek to empower individuals in Birmingham through work and faith. 

Click here to see the rest of our February eblast.