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Ministry helps community's unemployed

Valencia United Methodist Church provides free job workshop to community

Posted: February 13, 2009 9:01 p.m.
Updated: February 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Sue Reynolds, senior partner of NewMarket Careers and Tom Royston, a Valencia United Methodist WOW volunteer and technical recruiting specialist, instruct a small group on the importance of networking for job seeking. Workshop attendees could attend a number of groups based on topics such as resume buildings, interview skills, executing a job se...

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Sue Emerson was unexpectedly laid off three months ago, so the free job workshop her church provided Saturday came at a good time.

More than 85 job seekers of diverse ages and backgrounds took advantage of the free resources and seminar Valencia United Methodist Church provided. Only about 10 of those attendees were church members. Nonchurch members found out about the workshop passing by the church or word of mouth.

Emerson, 64, said seeing that type of attendance from many in her own community gave her some comfort.

“The economy has affected everybody and I’m not alone in it, but together if we follow steps and keep plugging along, it’s going to get better. Maybe in the end we’ll have grown from it,” Emerson said.

The church’s WOW Ministries Team hosted the three-hour workshop, providing a binder full of job resources and contacts, a large team of career experts from the community, more than 15 volunteers to serve breakfast, help out and provide voluntary prayer.

WOW stands for “working outside the walls,” and evolved from the church members’ desire to take their faith outside their services and events and reach into the community, said Nancy Taylor, director of the ministry.

“We’ve been talking about ways to expand the ministry and it’s become very evident with the downturn in the economy and so many people losing their jobs,” Taylor said. “Maybe the next step was to provide assistance for people who have lost their jobs or who were anticipating losing their jobs.”

Elezar Escarez, of Valencia, is about to lose his home, he said Saturday. It was the first job workshop he’d attended since he lost his real estate business.

“They’re able to give us ways to get jobs or start all over again,” Escarez said about the workshop speakers. “It helps, but not 100 percent. It will help to motivate but it might take a while to find a job. I’m not negative, I’m always positive, but I think we need to reform the economy.”

The afternoon included a panel of experts from services such as the College of the Canyons Career Services, the Santa Clarita WorkSource Center and Saenger Associates, an executive search firm.

Attendees then split into small groups where they could learn about resume writing, networking, interview preparation, identifying alternative career choices or executing the job search.

Sue Reynolds, a senior partner with NewMarket Careers, stressed the importance of making networking a lifestyle.

“At your child’s soccer game, sit in the stands next to other soccer moms and ask, ‘what do you do, what does your husband do?’ and all of sudden you’re having a career conversation,” Reynolds said. “Word of mouth, word of mouth, word of mouth.”

Michael Clift just graduated college in December with a business degree. As a 22-year-old, he said seeing the older crowd at the seminar does “make things more difficult.”

“But it’s always good just to hear people’s advice because it kind of rejuvenates your drive,” he said.  
Emerson said the workshops positive and uplifting atmosphere impacted her.

“We were told, ‘everyone step back and take a look at your skills and reassess what you really want to do because you’re important,’ and that’s cool,” she said. “The next job I get will even be more meaningful than the last one … maybe this next one can even be better. Sometimes things work out for good.”

The team accomplished its goal, said WOW Ministries Team volunteer Terry Comp.

“People were hungry for this information,” she said. “We learned they were really hungry for the opportunity to learn more, because the whole job search thing is quite a big project for anyone to take on in today’s world.”

Taylor said the team will continue to search for ways to provide the community with informational and helpful opportunities. They are receptive to feedback on the community’s wants and needs.

WOW Ministries’ e-mail address is The phone number is (661) 284-1866, ext. 121.


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