JobsRVA - Erika's Story
In the past year, the highlights of Erika Gouverneur’s life have been obtaining her U.S .citizenship and finishing a Jobs For Life program.
Ajai Blue-Saunders runs the local nonprofit JobsRVA. She trains other nonprofits and churches to conduct a Jobs For Life program.
The goal is to equip communities with tools that can be used to train people on how to find and keep a job. Churches and organizations lead a sixteen session class where people learn about God’s design for work and learn soft skills. All this, while receiving a supportive community through mentorship.
They also pull in businesses to help. “Those businesses come in on the mock interview component. They sit in on mock interview panels and talk about their jobs and how they got started,” Blue-Saunders said.
Erika went through the training that was held at Third Church. She now works for a local grocery store. She was thrilled the program also assigned Alison Herring to be what’s called a champion, or a mentor.
“If you are going through a difficult time, they are there to encourage you. I needed that and it was great. This is a really important program,” Erika said.
Alison told CBS 6 News that the champion gets to be a cheerleader of sorts. “A source of support. Someone that’s going to point out what you’re good at. All of us can use a moment to pause and think about our strengths and ask are we doing what we are called to be doing?”
Blue-Saunders says the program is faith-based and claims to restore dignity, change lives and transform communities.
“That was the main thing for me. To have this book and to see the Bible-based principles and learn how I can navigate in life to be the best at my job,” Erika emphasized.
“We expand people’s knowledge of the workforce, their knowledge of jobs and what’s available out there,” Blue-Saunders added.
Last year one hundred seven people participated in the Jobs For Life program. Sixty-eight percent maintain their employment. This week, a few participants from the Real Life Community Center completed their graduation.
There are currently seventeen Jobs For Life training sites in the metro Richmond area. If you would like to find out what churches are participating, and how can get involved, go to jobsrva.org.