SANFORD — In a time of economic woe and a persistent unemployment rate, members of Central Carolina Community College's Workforce Investment Act program are celebrating success.
CCCC's Triangle South Workforce Development Board, in conjunction with the JobLink Career Center in Lee County, held its 2011 Empowerment Symposium March 10 to honor members of the college’s Workforce Investment Act program. The program helps dislocated workers gain new skills through college courses and an aggressive pursuit of jobs available in a variety of fields, such as certified nursing assistants, truck drivers, and business related positions.
“My story is similar to a lot of yours,” Melanie Johnson, of Sanford, told the roughly 30 participants at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center event. “My company, where I’d worked for 10 years, just told me one day, ‘We don't need you anymore.’”
Johnson said she lost her job around the same time she was dealing with the loss of her father, a preacher, and that the WIA program offered her a multitude of choices as far as how she’d move forward in her professional career.
“I wondered how I could honor my father's memory, and so I decided to go back to school and pursue a career in the human services industry,” Johnson said.
Another participant, Thomas McKendall, said that during 14 months in prison he decided to turn his life around and pursue honest work upon his release “for my kids.”
“It's been a long 18 months for me,” he said. “When I came home I decided I wanted to change my life for the better.”
Through the WIA program, McKendall said was he able to secure the skills that allowed him to get a job driving a truck.
Anita Shaw, a former school bus driver who is attending college classes through the WIA program, lauded the persistence of the Lee County JobLink Career Center staff who are guiding her through the program.
“They would call me and say 'Why are you not here? You can do this. Get off the couch and get down here,'” she said. “I might not be on the honor roll like I'd like to be, but I'm in college and I'm getting ready to graduate with two degrees.”
Mark Sessoms, a JobLink Career Center employee who was at the symposium, told the crowd that “the most important thing here is that each of you is able to find a job. If a job is hard to find, come see us and let's have a pep talk. We don't want to stop helping as long as we're able to.”
The Triangle South Workforce Development Board is funded by the federal government and administered by Central Carolina Community College for Lee, Chatham, Harnett, and Sampson counties. For more information on programs available through the organization, visit www.trianglesouthworkforce.com