May 17th 2016 No comments yet
Every few months, we at Stonebriar offer our facilities and volunteers to host the Career Transition Workshop—a free resource for those searching for work in our community. Event attendees have the opportunity to hear job-hunt strategies from a panel of experts, and they are provided with workbooks, snacks, and lunch at no cost. (That’s right—free food. I’m in.)
The majority of the workshop’s 350 attendees are not Stonebriar members, which makes this event a beautiful opportunity to show Christ’s love to those outside our church family. Throughout the day, Stonebriar volunteers greet guests, serve lunch, and pray with attendees over unemployment struggles and anything else that burdens them.
When I volunteered to help during my lunch hour at our most recent workshop, I wasn’t sure if I would be stationed in the prayer room or if I would balance plates of hot food like a diner waitress. Heroic either way, I thought. But I actually did much less than that. All I did was fill cups with unsweet tea and water and greet people who came through the drink line. That’s it. But for all the genuine “thank you” comments and bright smiles I received in return, you would think I was passing out bars of gold.
I will admit, the attendees seemed significantly more joyful than I expected them to be. Sure, I figured they would be polite, but I also assumed they would be focused—intent on learning as much as possible in a single day—and maybe wouldn’t have time or energy to be overly friendly. But people went out of their way to talk with me and thank me—even though I was just serving drinks! I had begun to wonder about these joyful attitudes when Karen Hawkins, our pastoral leader of Community Care, brought something to my attention.
“We don’t live in a culture of community anymore,” Karen was telling me after lunch. “If people don’t go to a church, they usually find their main community in the workplace.” She went on to say that, during the first few months of job loss, people isolate. They buckle down and believe they’ll find something right away, but if that doesn’t happen, they begin to worry. The isolation begins to wear on them. And they don’t just ache for the income and stability of full time work—they miss the community of the workplace, too.
That’s when the reason for the attendees’ joy became a bit clearer to me. In addition to all the helpful advice and resources of this event, the Career Transition Workshop offers a taste of community to those who are truly craving it. Many of these people have been searching for work for months. What a joy it must be for them to gather with other people again—to know they are not alone in their struggles.
“Two are better than one…for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9–10
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
I cannot imagine my life without my church community and my coworkers. It is often through their friendship and encouragement that God reminds me of my worth and gives me strength to persevere. If you ever have the chance to volunteer on a workshop day, I encourage you to try it (and no, not just for the free food, though that never hurts). You may never be more grateful for the job you have and the community you are in than after you serve those who might have neither.
If you are personally struggling with a job search, I hope you will attend our next workshop and visit our website to learn about Stonebriar’s other resources, including:
Reach Up Reach Out: a weekly gathering designed to encourage those experiencing job loss, and
Frisco Connect: a bi-monthly meeting designed to help job-seekers network and build skills.
Written by Patricia Krecklow, Staff Editor & Writer
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