By Crystal Burns
Christy Skelton, executive director of the newly incorporated Gibson County Christian Women’s Job Corp (CWJC), flashed a big grin last week as the group closed on a transitional house for women.
The home, located in Trenton, will house up to eight women beginning in November. Skelton said the women would likely come out of the Powered for Life class she and other CWJC volunteers teach at the Gibson County Correctional Complex. There are currently 17 women in the class.
Powered for Life is a 16-week course that uses biblical principles to encourage women as they address life skills and learn basic job skills. Skelton said participants assess where they’ve been in life, where they are and where they would like to be. Leaders help them set goals and develop plans to achieve those goals. Job skills include learning to fill out applications and resumes and how to prepare for interviews.
Skelton said the curriculum is intensive and hopefully helps participants establish healthy habits and patterns in lives that have been marked by chaos. The course also requires an assessment of needs that involves the women sharing with Skelton where they will go after their release, if they have any job prospects, if they will have suitable childcare and if they or their children have any medical concerns.
“I learned very early on that many of them had no safe place to go,” Skelton said.
With no job and no reliable transportation but fines and court costs to pay, they get caught in the cycle of poverty and incarceration. In her nearly four years of teaching Powered For Life, Skelton has seen several class participants come back to jail. She hopes giving them a safe place to go upon release will help them break that cycle.
CWJC was able to finance the home, but Skelton knows the organization will need more support to hire a transitional manager, keep up with routine maintenance and pay off the note. Although she doesn’t have all the answers, Skelton said she isn’t afraid.
“I’m not anxious,” she said. “The Lord is going to provide. I believe we’ll pay off that note in no time.”
There are also questions to answer regarding entry to the home. Skelton said the board would help her develop the criteria each woman must meet, and potential residents would appear before a committee before being accepted in the transitional house.
“I’m taking it day by day,” Skelton said.
She is actively looking for opportunities to speak at area churches and civic groups that are interested in helping CWJC and its ministries. To schedule her for your group, please call 731-414-2795.
Skelton said there are currently two women who completed Powered For Life and have been released that are volunteering at Twice Blessed, the thrift store CWJC operates in Trenton. They are both on track to have their teeth fixed at no cost in 30 days.
CWJC has partnered with Agape Smiles and Elite Dental to provide the service to qualifying women. Skelton said the dental work is life changing for women who have often neglected dental hygiene due to drug abuse or financial strain.
Twice Blessed is located next to Food Rite in the Davy Crockett Mall in Trenton. It is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the first Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All profits go back into CWJC ministries.