Heart for Winter Haven (Winter Haven, FL)
Heart for Winter Haven, a faith-based non-profit in Winter Haven, FL, began partnering with Jobs for Life in 2016 to help provide the unemployed and underemployed in their community with the skills, self-confidence, biblical understanding of work, and employer connections they need to get a job to provide for themselves and their families. Since that time, they have held four classes and have served dozens of individuals that are seeking employment and a more solid foundation for their future.
One story from 2017 involved Pamela, a graduate of one of Heart for Winter Haven’s JfL classes. She was new to the area and was currently employed, but didn’t look forward to going to her job and didn’t feel it was giving her any purpose. She came to the JfL class looking for help, but didn’t really know what to expect. After the first session, she felt so welcomed and encouraged that she kept coming back. As Pamela worked on her vocational plan, she discovered what she really wanted to do with her life and new passions she didn’t even realize she had. Through the JfL class, Pamela found the exact job in the field she wanted to be in. And she’s now planning to return as a Champion (mentor) in one of the upcoming JfL classes!
“That’s how we measure real development—whenever the people we’re serving begin to serve,” shared Margaret Jones (Director of Operations and Equipping). “For us, that’s the ultimate goal. It’s incredible the transformation that’s taken place in Pamela’s life. Now, she’s got her own community. She’s got something she’s a part of in this new place she now calls home.”
Two individuals that graduated in Heart for Winter Haven's 2017 Fall class are planning to return as Champions for the next class. “We’ve gotten Champions out of every class,” Brad states. “It really is a sustainable, replicable model. It really is a gift to the community. It's the people in this community, not just our organization's leaders, who are leading this ministry and making it work.”
Another highlight from the Fall 2017 JfL class involved a student who was let go from her job. The same day she was let go, she showed up to class and everyone—students, volunteers, and leaders—loved on her. One of the area pastors was actually there as well and prayed with her. During the class graduation she shared that, “It was the love of the community in Jobs for Life that really did a healing, a transformation in my life. When I was in the midst of this situation with my job, you guys were there for me.”
Margaret adds that, “I don’t see Jobs for Life as a program. I see it as a tool to transform and heal a broken life. There is not one class where we haven’t seen some sort of brokenness in people—in the students AND the volunteers involved. Everyone has a past, and a lot of us just haven't dealt with it yet. To be able to walk or cry with someone, and say “It’s okay,” and for them to hear that even through the brokenness and pain we’ve experienced, we’ve found a God that can heal us and restore us, and that He has a plan for us. And then to see the light that comes on in people’s hearts and for them to say, “Oh my gosh, there IS hope!?” Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this work? Who wouldn’t want to see this expand across the world?!”
>> Learn more about Heart for Winter Haven