Executive Director Brenda Rienstra and Christian Women’s Job Corps in Burnet are offering classes for women to develop job skills as well as work on attributes companies want in an employee such as good customer service, perseverance, and a willingness to work. The next tuition-free, 12-week course begins Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 218 E. Jackson St. in Burnet. Call (512) 756-1484 or go to cwjchl.org for an application. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton
EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON
BURNET — As Brenda Rienstra prepares for the next Christian Women’s Job Corps session, she wonders how she can find more students.
“We want to fill the session up,” she said. “We want to make a difference in women’s lives and help them not only work on their job skills but help lift them up.”
Christian Women’s Job Corps, located at 218 E. Jackson St., offers a tuition-free, 12-week program that teaches a number of job and personal skills to give women a chance at getting back on their feet and becoming independent.
The next session begins Tuesday, Aug. 28, and continues through Thursday, Nov. 15. Classes meet from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
The classes cover a wide range of topics, including computer skills, money management, job searches, goal setting, business etiquette, customer service, and even sewing.
As it is a Christian ministry, staff also hold Bible studies.
Rienstra admitted that, in today’s world, the idea of attending a Bible study is off-putting for some, but she’s witnessed in previous sessions how these studies become the favorite part of the day for many students.
“We hope those who are already Christians develop their relationship with Christ further, and, if they’re not, maybe we can show them that relationship with Christ and how it can enrich their lives,” Rienstra added.
While the 12-week session isn’t a college degree, it’s a good start for the female students as they learn skills sought after by employers. Christian Women’s Job Corps has a bank of up-to-date computers on which students learn computer-related skills they can take with them into the job market.
Christian Women’s Job Corps talks to area employers about what they are looking for in employees then adds that training to the program. Things are always changing in the workforce, Rienstra said, and it’s important to keep up with trends.
However, good customer service is almost always at the top of an employer’s list.
“It really doesn’t matter what job you have, you’re probably going to be working with the public or someone,” Rienstra said. “Customer service skills are so important, yet it’s one thing we hear from employers that they have difficulty in finding in people sometimes.”
Christian Women’s Job Corps helps its students develop those customer service skills. Some of the lesson comes from just being around each other for a 12-week session. The women learn to work with their classmates, but the relationships often go deeper than that.
“Every woman who comes in here is from a different background,” Rienstra said, “but they form this bond, a friendship. Since it’s a small class, they really get to know each other and support each other.”
Which brings up another focus of Christian Women’s Job Corps: Building up each woman who walks through the door. It’s not a “come in, sit down, and listen” type of setting. The goal is to focus on the whole person.
“We really help them build up their confidence and their self-esteem,” Rienstra said. “We want them to know they are important and they are each special. Sometimes, they just need a lot of love, and we give that to them here.”
The classes are open to women 18 years and older, and students range in age from late teens to 60s or 70s. Many are in their 30s and 40s.
But age doesn’t matter; only the woman’s desire to commit to bettering her life.
“We’re here to help them get started,” Rienstra said. “They just have to take that first step.”
Go to cwjchl.org or call (512) 756-1484 or (409) 718-0729 for more information or an application. You can also stop by the Christian Women’s Job Corps office at 218 E. Jackson St.