8th annual Building Hope Banquet in Lee County held Aug. 20

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Special to the
Opelika Observer

On Aug. 20, men and women from across Lee County gathered at Auburn United Methodist Church (AUMC) in the Epworth Center to help build hope in the lives of women of Lee County. The Christian Women’s Job Corps® (CWJC) of Lee County held their eighth annual Building Hope Fundraising Banquet to build support for the local ministry dedicated to helping women in need in Lee County achieve self-sufficiency.
The welcome was given by CWJC board member Dr. Denny Marple, followed by the invocation given by Dr. Cory Smith of AUMC. Music was provided by Tom Gassaway as dinner was served by Auburn University women’s six-time national champion equestrian team. Guests were treated to a video of the championship season of Auburn’s equestrians. Following dinner, CWJC made a special presentation to equestrian team Coach Greg Williams. Williams noted the shared commitment of CWJC and the Auburn equestrians: empowering women.
CWJC of Lee County’s Executive Director Neeley Caldwell gave an overview of the ministry which has completed 24 sessions, graduating 145 women and impacting the lives of more than 200 children in the community. Caldwell described each session’s 10 weeks of courses provided to women, free of charge.
Participants desiring a serious life change submit an application, complete an interview process, and once accepted, begin an intense five days a week, nine-week schedule of classes such as leadership, communications, budgeting, family relations, computer skills, life skills, health and wholeness and Bible study.
During week 10, participants are placed in a four-day internship with a local business to apply newly acquired job skills. On the final day of the 10th week, participants graduate from the CWJC in a pinning ceremony where they speak individually on how CWJC has changed their lives. Caldwell recounted stories of success of past participants who have gained skills, confidence, self-esteem and employment in Lee County after their participation in CWJC and shared a video of graduates and where they are now employed.
Caldwell challenged the Lee County community to “hold the rope” for these women as they work to overcome obstacles in their quest for success.
“These ladies need a positive environment where they are encouraged to go down into the pit (go back to earn their GED, take college classes, interview for a job, leave a negative relationship, make better choices, learn to forgive),” Caldwell said. “Holding the Rope” may include prayer, instruction, mentoring, financial support or spreading the word.
Dr. Beverly Marshall introduced the keynote speaker Allen Greene, athletic director for Auburn University. Greene shared the story of growing up in a poor, single parent home, where he watched his mother struggle to hold a job.
“I saw my mother repeat the cycle of try, climb and fail over and over again,” Greene said. “Her struggle taught me about strength, resilience and the power women have in a family. My mother’s efforts made me the man I am today.”
Greene admitted that he is interested in seeing Auburn University build champions.
“It’s more than awards and rings,” he said. “It’s about servant leadership, making AU men and women better members of the community.”
Greene identified with how CWJC impacts family, generations of children, neighbors and the community. He thanked the ministry of CWJC for investing in the Lee County community.
Dr. Addie Swinney, CWJC Board Member, gave the appeal for continued support of CWJC Lee County with finances, time and prayer.
The next session of CWJC of Lee County will begin Sept. 9 and conclude with a pinning ceremony on Nov. 15. Applications are now being accepted and interviews are being scheduled. Volunteer opportunities are needed in areas of meal preparation and service, instruction and assisting instruction and administrative tasks. For more information on being a participant or volunteering in the upcoming fall session, contact neeley@cwjclc.com or334-524-5529 and 334-821-0591.

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