By Jaclyn Bonner
If not for the Heart of Texas Christian Women’s Job Corps sign, you could easily overlook the modest, beige, and olive-colored house on Coggin Avenue in Brownwood.
CWJC is home to transformative learning opportunities and holistic development for women. Established in Brownwood in 2003, the mission of the Heart of Texas branch of CWJC is to “care, guide, and equip women in a Christian environment,” explained Casey Moore, the director. CWJC is a ministry of Texas WMU.
In 2016 alone, CWJC recorded 900 hours of volunteer service.
Each spring and fall semester, community members partner with CWJC to provide 12 weeks of classes for women from about 20 to 60 years old. Core classes include computer technology, math, grammar, bookkeeping, and résumé writing. Supplemental courses and seminars are tailored each semester to the participants’ career goals and interests.
CWJC also focuses on relationships – both spiritual and friendships – through daily Bible studies and a mentorship program.
At the conclusion of each semester, CWJC hosts a
graduation ceremony, complete with cap and gown, diploma, and pictures. On Nov.
10, 2016, Sherry Matthews, along with 10 other women, graduated.
Three or four years previous, Sherry saw an ad for CWJC in the local newspaper. She lived in Section 8 public housing and was enrolled in welfare support during the time she stayed at home with her children. Sherry noted that sometimes she felt guilty for raising her kids at home, saying, “You start feeling worthless if you are supported by government aid too long.”
About 90 percent of women who enroll in the free CWJC program have had a rough life.
Generational poverty, divorce, job loss, addictions, disabilities, accidents, and illnesses contribute to the need for investment of time, knowledge, and love in vulnerable women.
“I think every community has a need,” stated the CWJC director. “We want women and single mothers to feel like they can take care of themselves and their families.”
Tearing up, Sherry reflected that CWJC helped her realize that the past is past. She graduated from CWJC not only with new skills and self-confidence but with a lifelong support group.
“You don’t just become friends, you become family,” said Sherry.