Deanna Welsh needed a job.
Two weeks after starting Jobs @ First, a new jobs ministry at First Baptist Church of Augusta, she was called for an interview.
“I had computer experience and a degree, but I needed help with my resume,” said Welsh, a mom and military wife who moved to Augusta a year ago.
She went to First Baptist looking for a church and financial advice. She was surprised to learn there was a ministry to help her find a job as well.
“The job ministry was able to help me in my time of need. They gave me confidence. They gave me great feedback on my resume,” said Welsh, now an executive administrative assistance at ADP in Augusta.
This week, Jobs @ First enters its third semester with a series of classes on conducting job searches online, writing and updating resumes, and interviewing.
The first semester of Jobs @ First was held in early fall as an extension of the church’s 30-year-old benevolence ministry, which provides counseling, food and help with past-due rent and utilities.
“That used to be all that we could do,” said Andy Jones, the minister of missions and faith development at First Baptist. “We realized there are some things we can do differently and better as a church. It’s not about putting a band-aid on their problems, which is all we’ve done in the past.”
Jobs @ First aims to offer tangible skills and resources that improve job prospects for the out-of-work or under-employed, said Ellen Underwood, Jobs @ First director.
“We rewrite the resume with them,” she said. “It’s individualized attention.”
With dedicated job searchers, it doesn’t take long to see results, Underwood said.
“They’ll hear back within the time we’re in class, which is four weeks,” she said.
There’s a key to success with Jobs @ First, Jones said.
“Show up,” he said. “If they show up, we’re going to do our part and come along side them. They’ve got to show up and put the effort in themselves.”
At its heart, Jobs @ First is a ministry.
“We want it to be a witness for Jesus Christ,” Underwood said. “People come and they feel so desperate. We want to help them in that time of need.”
The program gets its name from the companion Computers @ First ministry.
That ministry offers a variety of free computer classes, from home networking and video editing to introductory Excel and social media for business.
Classes in both programs are taught by volunteers. Instructors are often recently retired, with skills to share, Underwood said.
“We have a plethora of skills between us,” she said, adding that both programs are always looking for more instructors.
Welsh recommends the program whenever she hears someone is looking for a job.
“For people without computer experience, this program will give it to you. If you need a resume, they’ll help you,” she said. “It’s a great program. If it wasn’t for their help, I wouldn’t be where I am.”