Faith Based & Neighborhood Partnerships


In Northeast Ohio there is a growing movement of community-based job clubs finding success in helping a wide range of workers get and keep good jobs. To learn more about the work of these job clubs and to facilitate partnerships between these groups and the Department of Labor administered workforce investment system, my office held a regional symposium in Cleveland earlier this month as part of our broader Job Clubs Initiative.

More than 150 people attended the Jobs Partnership Cleveland event hosted by Mt. Zion Congregational Church.

More than 150 people attended the event hosted by Mt. Zion Congregational Church and the job club they sponsor, Jobs Partnership Cleveland. We heard from local job club leaders and some of their members. One such member was Emma Daniels, who described herself as a recovering addict who has been a certified clerk for more than 20 years. She was also incarcerated for several years. Following her release from prison, she could not find employment for 7 years. She recently landed a new job through the help of Jobs Partnership Cleveland. Her participation in the job club opened her eyes to the value of neighbors helping neighbors. She is now speaking and sharing her own success story at area women’s substance abuse treatment centers to, in her words, “pay it forward.”

The concept of paying it forward inspired by job clubs was also revealed in the story of Jon Gamertsfelder. Jon is a member of Hudson Job Search located in the Cleveland suburbs of Summit County. After recently losing his job as the result of a downsizing, he began attending the job club meetings to expand his network and develop his networking skills. Hudson Job Search delivered for Jon and he is now gainfully employed at BASF Corporation. Despite working he continues to remain involved in the job club as one of approximately 50 volunteer advisors who provide valuable one-on-one coaching and counseling. According to Jim Ahern, director of Hudson Job Search, half of his volunteer advisors are in fact former “clients” who found their jobs through the group and are now returning the favor.  

Native Ohioan and current director of the Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, Jay Williams, delivered the keynote address at the symposium.

Both Jobs Partnership Cleveland and Hudson Job Search have helped hundreds of Ohioans land jobs over the past few years despite the challenging labor market. What makes these job clubs so effective? As the attendees at Wednesday’s symposium learned, job clubs begin by putting their members in the right frame of mind to be productive job seekers. They help job seekers network and use the latest job search tools like LinkedIn. And they take advantage of close relationships with employers, who value and trust their judgment when it comes to finding talent. Jobs Partnership Cleveland, for example, works closely with the Christian Business League of Cleveland which sponsors “intimate” job fairs with a handful of employers and a small group of job seekers who have gone through the job club. Employers from the league regularly attend the weekly meetings and get to know the job club members.

Yvonne Jeans, Executive Director of Jobs Partnership Cleveland, is most impressed by the employment retention rates of her program; more than 80% of her members are still employed one year after landing a job through the group, including many members who are ex-offenders and those with other blemishes on their records. Yvonne attributes this success to the strong connections she and her volunteers build with the members, and in turn, the members’ sense of obligation to “do right” by Jobs Partnership. As Yvonne puts it, getting and keeping a job is often as simple as, “the sense of walking alongside someone.”

Native Ohioan and current director of the Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, Jay Williams, delivered the keynote address at the symposium. He commended the job clubs for their good work and urged them to work closely with the state and local workforce development system, highlighting the power of community-government partnerships. He also spelled out how the common sense proposals in President Obama’s American Jobs Act, such as Project Rebuild and Pathways Back to Work, will help so many Ohioans struggling to get jobs.

Click here to view more photos:

This blog has been cross-posted on the White House blog:

Guest Blog: Thank You Labor Secretary Solis



by: Brian Ray



  Last Saturday, 10/15/11, at our Crossroads Career Leaders Conference in Atlanta,  U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis spoke to us by video message:



“I know you’re here today because taking care of one another is one of our most sacred national traditions. Thank  you for keeping that tradition alive. Thank you for giving back, for refusing to give up hope, and for lifting up your neighbors.”


View "Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis"


As our audience gave her message applause, I thought “Wow! Who would have thought that we would be in a ‘faith-based partnership’ with the U.S. Department of Labor?” On the other hand, why not? Our country has a serious employment crisis, and as the Secretary said, it is time for “all hands on deck.”





How did this happen?



Earlier this year, The White House established the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that forms and supports partnerships between government at all levels and nonprofit organizations, both secular and faith-based, to more effectively serve Americans in need. The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships coordinates 13 Federal agency Centers for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Each Center forms partnerships between its agency and faith-based and neighborhood organizations to advance specific goals.



A couple of months ago, a friend of mine invited me to participate in an every other week phone conference with the Deputy Director of the the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Hearing that he was planning a symposium in Cleveland, I introduced him to career ministry leaders in the area.



Later we began talking about a symposium in Atlanta, which led to Secretary Solis speaking where she met jobseekers and ministy leaders at one of our member churches, Cascade United Methodist Church. Thanks to CCN ministry leaders Valerie Jones who coordinated the event at Cascade, as well as serving as a panelist along with Katherine Simons from Roswell United Methodist Church and Marilyn Santiago from Ben Hill United Methodist Church.



A week later, Secretary Solis offered to prepare a video message for our annual leader conference, and of course, we sent her a thank-you note! (see below) Moreover, we thank God as He is at work in and through us to help everyone find jobs, careers and God’s calling.







What happens next?



That depends mostly on us as Crossroads Career Network. We have already had great experiences on local levels putting on job fairs with DOL career centers, as well as cross-referring jobseekers to one another.


May I recommend that you as a jobseeker, career explorer or ministry leader connect with the local CareerOneStop near you? See what they have to offer and also how you can help them. In the meantme, we have begun discussions with national and regional DOL representatives explore how we can partner.


As we seek the next right steps, may I encourage us to consider our values and our stewardship principles:


  • Be faithful stewards with whatever God gives
  • Don’t worry about what He does not give
  • Take every thought captive to Christ


As Secretary Solis said,


“We want to create more opportunities to work together on employment referrals, job fairs, online workshops and other activities. There is power in this synergy. The bottom line is that we’re stronger when we work together. President Obama and I are so grateful for your commitment. We look forward to working together in the months ahead to secure the future of our economy, our communities and our country.”



This blog was reposted from the Crossroads Career Network Blog:


by Secretary Hilda L. Solis

There’s an old saying – “tough times bring out the best in people.” At McLean Bible Church in Virginia, this maxim could not be more true.

On Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to visit the Career Network Ministry at McLean Bible, where I witnessed a community coming together and neighbors helping neighbors in the job search process.


In her remarks at McLean Bible Church, Secretary Solis illuminated key proposals in the American Jobs Act that would benefit middle class families and the long-term unemployed, including many of the ministry's members.


The Career Network Ministry is one of the largest “job clubs” in the country. These groups rely on the selfless work of volunteers to provide unemployed members of the community with training in the latest job search tools, opportunities to expand their professional networks, and a good excuse to get out of the house and spend time with others in a comfortable and inviting atmosphere.

They are working closely with my department’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships as part of our new Job Clubs Initiative which provides technical assistance and connections to DOL resources.

Job clubs like the Career Network Ministry produce results.

Several members of the group shared their “victory laps” with the more than 200 people in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting. Karen, a single mom showed up at her office one day last December to learn that her position was being terminated. She was out of work for nearly nine months. But on Tuesday she announced to the group that she had landed a new management position with a technology firm – crediting her success to the support and resources offered through the Ministry.

Pastor Joe Henriques and Mallard Owen, one of the lead volunteers who himself found his job through the Ministry, gave me a tour of the various job workshops and activities offered at McLean Bible every Tuesday evening. That night a former executive from AOL was providing training on the professional networking website, LinkedIn; volunteers were hosting orientation sessions for new members; and human resources professionals were offering advice on how to better present skills and experiences during a job search process.


McLean Bible uses networking tables where members can talk with each other to discuss job leads and make connections.


The ministry is open to all members of the local community. In fact, less than a quarter of the participants are members of the church’s congregation.

Mallard, Karen, and their fellow members of the Career Network Ministry are among the millions of middle class professionals who will directly benefit from some of the key proposals in President Obama’s American Jobs Act.

The American Jobs Act calls for the most innovative reform to the unemployment insurance program in 40 years. It empowers states to implement wage insurance to help reemploy older and more experienced workers. It provides a self-employment assistance program that makes it easier and less risky for unemployed workers to start their own businesses. It promotes work-sharing in the form of partial unemployment insurance benefits for workers whose employers choose reduction in hours over layoffs when business slows down. And it prohibits employers from discriminating against unemployed workers when hiring.

These policies are game-changers for middle class professionals 50 years-of-age and older who were adversely affected by the recession. Across America, communities are pulling together to help these workers get back on their feet. There is a role for federal and state governments to partner with these communities to assist their unemployed. The American Jobs Act does just that.

The President’s bill is now with the Congress. It is time for them to act on behalf of these workers, including the couple hundred I met last night in Virginia.  

This blog entry was cross-posted from

Guest Blog: Brevard County Looks Ahead with “Faith in the Future”


(From left) At the Faith in the Future job clubs event in Rockledge, FL: Tracy Washington, a certified grief recovery expert; Rita Elkins of Performance Excellence Partners; Alexia Kelley, deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Lisa Rice, president of Brevard Workforce; and Diana Miller, founder of Community Job Club in Northeast, OH.

Recently, I was honored to join faith and community leaders in Brevard County, Florida for the launch of “Faith in the Future” – a new initiative to better serve job seekers. Due to the transitions in the NASA Space Shuttle program based in Brevard, thousands of aerospace engineers are unemployed and looking for new opportunities.

Brevard Workforce, the local administrator of government workforce development funds, is collaborating with congregations and community groups to support and expand “Job Clubs”. A job club is a support group of unemployed individuals who meet on a regular basis to learn job search skills and techniques such as LinkedIn, expand professional networks, and receive emotional support.  The Department of Labor estimates that there are over 3,500 active Job Clubs hosted by congregations, public libraries, community colleges, nonprofit organizations and One Stop Career Centers.

The Administration awarded $15 million to Brevard Workforce to help re-employ aerospace workers dislocated as a result of the Space Shuttle retirement. A portion of these funds is helping to support the Job Clubs program that works in partnership with community and faith-based organizations. The Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Labor has been instrumental in supporting the community leaders of Brevard County in planning the Job Clubs through their own Job Club Initiative.

While in Brevard, I met with Ronald Caswell and William Bender, two distinguished aerospace engineers who are now partnering with Brevard Workforce.  Both Mr. Caswell and Mr. Bender spoke eloquently about their own experience, and offered excellent guidance to the participants regarding the essential features of effective job support initiatives.    


Aerospace Engineers Ronald Caswell and William Bender with Tracy Washington, a Job Loss and Transition Strategist, at “Faith in the Future” event which brought together faith and community leaders in Brevard County, Florida.

Men and women in Brevard County are just like those nationwide facing the challenges of a job search.   Because these meetings take place in congregations and community-settings, people feel comfortable and at ease helping offset the oftentimes isolating nature of a job search.

I would like to thank Brevard Workforce for their gracious invitation, and all of the faith and community leaders—including many employers—in Brevard who are sharing their time and talent through Job Clubs, employment ministries and other programs for job seekers.  Brevard County has been the technology center and launching pad for Space Shuttles that have expanded human knowledge for years. With their tenacity to expand employment opportunities, the citizens of Brevard County will continue to advance space exploration and reach new horizons for years to come.

Alexia Kelley is the Deputy Director and Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

This blog was re-posted from the White House blog:

Guest Blog: Job Clubs – Making a Difference in Atlanta

by Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis

During my travels in Georgia this week I visited Atlanta’s Cascade United Methodist Church – the largest African-American United Methodist Church in the Southeast – where my department’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships was hosting a symposium about job clubs and career ministries.

Secretary Solis speaks about the Labor Department’s new faith-based project to connect with job clubs and ministries and facilitate partnerships between job clubs and the workforce investment system during a visit Wednesday to Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta.

I had the opportunity to meet with a small group of job seekers and workers who have been helped by some of the career ministries in the Atlanta area. I heard from a woman named Audrey who lost her job in the banking industry in June. Her initial reaction was that the sky was falling, but thanks to support from family, friends, and the career ministry at Cascade UMC she now has a positive approach to the job search process and is excited about the chance to transition into a new field.

I also heard from Charlie, a computer software engineer who was out of work for two years. As he put it, every plan he came up with to land a job fell apart until a friend dragged him kicking and screaming to the career ministry at Roswell UMC. The ministry offered him the opportunity to expand his professional network and it provided him with spiritual motivation that lifted his spirits. Best of all, Charlie recently landed a new job in software development.

Participants in a small group discussion get the opportunity to express their ideas directly to Secretary Solis on the needs of African-Americans to fully participate in the labor market.

These are just two examples of job seekers and workers who are being supported professionally, emotionally, and spiritually by job clubs throughout the Atlanta region and across the country. The symposium at Cascade UMC highlighted these stories and also explored how job clubs and career ministries are partnering with One Stop Career Centers, employers, and other organizations.

One of the symposium panels featured Greg Bright, a human resources executive with Waffle House. Greg has been working with some of the career ministries in Atlanta over the past years to fill jobs at all levels within his company. “We look for people we can not only hire, but most importantly retain,” explained Greg. “The job ministries with deep roots in the community help us do that.”

Greg shared that he has been very pleased with the individuals he has hired through the ministry at New Birth Baptist Church.

Another panel included leadership from the Georgia Department of Labor, the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration’s regional office in Atlanta. These officials shared valuable information about the workforce investment system, including grant programs, tax credits, and web-based tools and resources. And they discussed how they can partner with job clubs and ministries.

I was honored to address the symposium audience of more than 350 people that included faith and community leaders, workforce professionals, and job seekers and workers. As part of my presentation, I was proud to share President Obama’s proposal in the American Jobs Act that prohibits employers from discriminating against unemployed workers when hiring.

I also shared how the package of tax cuts and investments in the President’s plan, if passed by Congress, will help people like Audrey, Charlie, and all those served by career ministries.

I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to Senior Pastor Marvin Anthony Moss and his colleagues for welcoming me and the Department of Labor into his wonderful church and to the job club members who shared their stories.

This blog was re-posted from the DOL blog:

One of the key areas that job clubs address is the mental health and emotional well-being of job-seekers. To explore this issue further and identify useful resources for job clubs, our office recently held a meeting with the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), where a panel of job club leaders discussed their experiences. 


First we heard from John Covington who runs a job club hosted by the Severna Park United Methodist Church in Maryland. John is also a small business owner at Chesapeake Consulting. He knows first hand what companies are looking for in an employee and feels that he can offer a unique perspective to job club attendees. John expressed the importance of addressing the mental health aspect of job club participants. He shared a story about two individuals who became emotional during a meeting. John was at a lost of how to help. His area of expertise is resume writing, and networking. Tapping into the host church's resources, he was able to call on the expertise of the pastors at Severna Park UMC to counsel the two individuals.  John stressed that in order to be in the right mindset to find a job, jobseekers need to deal with any lingering grief and anger first.


Next we heard from Joy Maguire-Dooley, Director of Youth and Family Services in Lisle Township, Illinois. Joy has been a part of the job club world for twenty years and she is a certified grief counselor. She explained that for her, the idea of starting a job club formed from clients coming in for counseling after being laid off or dealing with unemployment. She started off by addressing her clients' needs by helping them deal with grief and then the job networking component followed.


Last on our panel, we heard from Dianne Kerr, Associate Professor of Health Education at Kent State University. Dianne is a volunteer at the Community Job Club in Stow, OH. Dianne discussed the effect that unemployment has on the entire family. She explained cases where children have taken on the burden of worrying if their families will be able to put food on the table and pay the rent when their parent are not working. She has also dealt with cases where children feel that it’s their fault that their family is struggling, and they feel that if they were not around their parents would not have as many expenses.


After listening to our panel of job club experts, HHS administrator Maryann Robinson (United States Public Health Service Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Chief) addressed our panelists and shared some resources from her agency. SAMHSA has a variety of resources on their website that job club coordinators can incorporate into their sessions. These resources include; “How to Deal with Grief,” “Managing Stress in Later Life,” “Managing Your Stress,” and “Talking Dollars and Sense With Your Children.”  These resources can be found right here on the Partnerships CoP:


If you have any stories about how your job clubs have addressed the mental health barriers of job seekers, please contact me at


Ashley Gerwitz is the coordinator for this Community of Practice.

Guest Blog: Connection between Severna Park United Methodist Church and Arundel County Workforce Development by John Covington and Paula Brand



It was Sally’s (not her real name) first time at our Monday morning employment network group.  She is in her mid 50’s and has been out of the job market for nearly 30 years.  She is separated from her abusive spouse and needs a job.  She is preparing to walk down a path she has not traveled in three decades and the details of looking for a job are different.  She is not a member of our church but one of our members had pointed her in our direction and she is counting on our help.  What do we do – there are so many issues?  Where to start? 


Everyone who comes to the group has a different story and begins at a different place.  They desperately need a knowledgeable team, support group and the beginning of a network specifically for them.  The other co-facilitator, Sean, and I let her tell her story and we began to assess where she is on her journey.  One of our first recommendations is for her to contact Paula Brand at Anne Arundel County Workforce Development. We trust Paula and her team as she has delivered wonderful advice and services to our members.  We want Sally to add Paula to her network of people that will focus on getting her a job.  Although there is some overlap on what our church group offers Paula and her team work full time in this area and have many resources to help.  It is not an “either or” scenario but it is an “And” – Sally needs to go to our networking group AND Anne Arundel County Workforce development. 


*Editor's note: Sally is a new member of Severna Park United Methodist Church Job Club and this entry will be continued as we track her progress.

Guest Blog: Tax Season is Here - Are You Aware of Tax Credits, Free Tax Prep Services, and Savings Options?

by Joanna Smith-Ramani

January 27, 2012 is annual Earned Income Tax Awareness Day. To promote "EITC Day" the Partnerships CoP asked Joanna Smith-Ramani from the D2D Fund to write a guest blog for us on important resources available to job seekers and workers.


It is tax time.  Many of us think tax time only offers bad news.  But, this year may be different for you.  Depending on your household income, you may be eligible for great federal tax credits you have not benn eligible for in the past, you could be eligible for free tax preparation, and there are easy ways to save at tax time – even if you do not think you can spare anything right now. 


Tax Credits:

Did your household income change in the past year?  If so, you may be eligible for federal tax credits that you have not been eligible for in the past.  And these tax credits can be worth thousands of dollars!  The most common tax credits are the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), although there are others.  For income earned in 2011, the EITC can be worth up to $5,100 depending on income and family size.  The CTC is worth up to $1,000 per qualifying child.  These tax credits can be combined to help offset any taxes you owe the federal government and – even better – can help increase your refund depending on your tax situation.  Do not worry about knowing all of the details, your tax professional or tax software can help you compute the tax credits into your return.  Just remember, your tax liability changes from year to year – especially if your household income changed.  So, make sure to get help with your taxes so that you do not miss out on any opportunities to get the tax credits you are eligible for!  Click to learn more.


Free Tax Preparation:

Another way to save?  Free tax preparation! Throughout the country, trained and certified volunteers working through the IRS Volunteer Income Taxpayer Assistance program (VITA) help over 1 million people file returns for tax filers earning under $50,000.  Check out this site to see what is available in your area:,,id=219171,00.html.  You can also try to file online for free if you are eligible.  Click on and it will walk you through the process of preparing your own return using online, free software. 


Saving at Tax Time:

Saving may be the last thing on your mind right now.  But, tax time can be the best time to save – even if you have immediate needs for your refund.  Right on the tax form, you can elect to SPLIT your refund into multiple accounts and U.S. Savings Bonds.  So, you can put some money in your bank account for immediate needs now and save a little for later.  Think about this: if you are eligible for tax credits and are using a free tax preparation service, you have saved a bunch of money this tax season and potentially receiving a bigger refund than you expected.  With as little as $50, you can stock away a portion of that refund direct into U.S. Savings Bonds and know that you made a great financial decision for you and your family.  Check out for more information on Tax Time U.S. Savings Bonds.  


This tax season, you can catch up AND get ahead using the information above.  So, take the information and share with family, friends, and others in your community.  Everyone should know about how tax season can HELP!


Joanna Smith-Ramani serves as the Director of Scale Strategies for the Doorway to Dreams Fund (D2D). D2D is a national non-profit focused on strengthening the financial opportunity and security of low and moderate income consumers.


By: Cindy Huynh

Earlier this month, I joined some colleagues at the Department of Labor’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships on a visit to the Career Network Ministry (CNM) ( at McLean Bible Church in Northern Virginia. The visit was made in conjunction with the Center’s efforts to identify job clubs across the country and connect them to one another and to the workforce investment system. CNM is one of the most successful and celebrated job clubs in the country, so there was much anticipation for our visit.  


With an active roster of 1,300 members and an average of 75 to 100 participants per meeting, running the group’s Tuesday evening sessions is no easy feat. However, thanks to a corps of more than 150 dedicated volunteers, many of whom found their own jobs through CNM, the ministry has grown over the past three years to provide a variety of employment and support services. During the first part of the weekly meetings, job seekers engage in a range of small-group and one-on-one activities, including resume critique and interview training, consultations with human resources executives and other employer representatives, and prayer groups that offer faith and moral support. New members are given the CNM Handbook, a valuable resource that addresses topics such as marketing plans, traditional and non-traditional job search and networking techniques, and managing depression and disappointment while unemployed.


I was able to observe many of these various sessions, all of which are available and free to people from the broader community, not just congregation members. Following the smaller, break-out sessions, we participated in a gathering of the full group in attendance that evening, about 125 members. We heard "victory lap" speeches from members who had recently landed new jobs. Additionally, a guest speaker, social media guru Rob Mendez (, shared tips and strategies for getting the most out of LinkedIn and other tools. Rob revealed some tricks of the trade for landing at the top of a search for job candidates on LinkedIn. Finally, DOL Center’s deputy director Ben Seigel shared remarks with the group on the Center’s new project and praised CNM’s work. “This ministry is a testament to the power of community and volunteers to come together and help out your neighbors, and achieve real results in getting people back to work,” said Ben.


During my visit, I was very impressed with the positive, go-getter attitude that the group exuded, as well as the variety of training it offered. The tremendous amount of support provided by CNM’s volunteers has also proved to be invaluable to its job seeking members. For that reason, I was not surprised to learn that despite the fact that CNM advertises only through word of mouth, the group continues to gain about 25 new members each week, evidence of its success and impact on its members.


Cindy Huynh is a summer intern in the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor. She is a rising junior at Cornell University.



Submitted by Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP)

Norma Blackburn has landed many jobs in her life, but her recent experience with Job Clubs of Eastern Kentucky taught her that there is a level of job search techniques that is beyond what most people imagine.

With coaching and help from Job Clubs of Eastern Kentucky in Pike County, Norma recently obtained a great job as the branch manager for the Chloe Road branch of Professional Transportation Inc. (PTI). She now manages a fleet of vans and drivers that transport railroad employees.

“Job Club is an awesome program,” Norma said, smiling. “It’s the place to be.”

The job club is sponsored by Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, and the Pike County JobSight workforce center. It draws on these sponsors’ expertise and contacts to provide the job club’s members with information, job skills training, job leads, networking, and chances to meet with and learn from local employers.

Self-taught and self-motivated, Norma has had a varied career that started at a grocery store when she was 15. Over the years she has driven a truck, worked at a dairy and a bookshop, repaired coal trucks, and managed U.S. Census workers, among other jobs.

When her recent census job ended, she attended the Job Club in Pike County and was surprised at how much useful job search information she still had left to learn.

“I joined Job Club because I needed to freshen up on my job search skills and I needed to figure out how to market the skills I have,” Norma said, adding that Job Club helped her with those goals and many more.

At the small, informal Job Club meetings, Norma was able to get to know other job seekers who helped each other and brought each other information about possible job openings.

She also learned about how to use networking to tap the “hidden job market,” which consists of jobs that are filled through recommendations and networking and therefore are never advertised. In every community the majority of job openings are in the hidden job market.

Networking, as Norma described it, is “knowing the people who know the people who have the jobs.” These business and personal contacts are essential to successful job seeking, but they are aspects that many people overlook in their job search. 

Norma also learned resume-writing techniques, how to creatively assess one’s skills, the importance of practice interviews, strategic volunteering, and a host of other techniques, including ones as simple as sending a thank you card after an interview.

When Norma got a lead from the Office of Employment and Training about the job at PTI, the job club staff was there to help her prepare, lending her emotional support, helping her fine-tune her resume, and tirelessly performing mock interviews.

“They gave me as much support as I needed. I can still call them now,” Norma said.

Norma impressed PTI with her knowledge and preparation — and as a result she now has a challenging job she loves. 

Now Norma is supporting other job club members. She passes job leads on to the Job Club and plans to become a Job Club mentor, sharing the skills she learned with the next generation of job seekers.

Job Club Coordinator Traci Nolen said Norma’s story is inspirational, and proves the benefits of job clubs.

“Norma not only took support from Job Club, she gave back by being committed to helping her fellow club members get jobs, too,” Traci said. “She shared job leads and helped introduce the Job Club to people all over Pike County. She is a leader, a doer, and a giver, and these three extremely admirable qualities got her hired very quickly!”

Now a hiring manager in charge of eight regional locations for PTI, Norma naturally turns to the job club when she is looking to recruit and hire more drivers.  Now, that's a success that keeps on giving.






With the help of Job Club in Pike County, Norma Blackburn landed a new job as a branch manager for Professional Transportation Inc. (PTI) after her job with the U.S. Census concluded.

Several job clubs have been organized in eastern Kentucky and more are being planned. To find out more about Job Clubs of Eastern Kentucky, call 1-877-512-WORK. Find out more about EKCEP at or on Facebook at

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