Job searches turn to faith-based organizations for help

When Susan Goerss Brown decided to return to work for the first time in more than 10 years, she did not anticipate doing it during one of the worst recessions in her lifetime.

The 51-year-old San Mateo resident is searching for work in marketing communications and product management, and she said she decided to re-enter the work force after her youngest daughter graduated from high school.

“She’s a senior now,” Brown said. “It’s time to start looking again.”

She scoured the want ads for the past year, but she knew it wasn’t enough. Brown said she hadn’t considered agency job support until she saw an announcement in her church newsletter about a workshop. When she attended one at St. Bartholomew’s, she got more than she bargained for.

“I did get interview and résumé skills, but I also was able to network,” Brown said. “I’ve had interviews and submitted my résumé through the group. I wouldn’t have gotten that through just a job site.”

The workshop was put on by IG Partners, a San Mateo-based company that offers interview training and résumé building, but the owners were doing this seminar for free for fellow St. Bartholomew’s
parishioners.

“We want to give something back to our fellow man,” said Drew Wahl, managing director of IG Partners. “And we want people to know they are not alone in this.”

Wahl and his wife, Gloria, offer the program through their parish because they feel it’s a safe place for people to receive support outside state-run programs.

And the need for help is growing. California’s unemployment rate hit 12.3 percent in November, according to the Employment Development Department.

Increased unemployment is one reason the Interfaith Council in San Francisco held a panel discussion between churches and congregations to give them an opportunity to share ideas, said Rita Semel, executive vice chair of the council.

Frana Price, director of member programs for Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, was part of the panel discussion. She said the temple community also was willing to help members of the congregation and the community with one-on-one coaching and seminars with job recruiters.

“We aren’t different than anyone else,” Price said. “We have a growing number of unemployed, but also a growing number of people who’d like to help.”

 

Counting California’s work force

18.3 million: People eligible for employment in California
16 million: People employed in California
2.3 million: People unemployed in California
12.3 percent: California’s unemployment rate

Source: Economic Development Department, November

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