Inmates graduate Jobs for Life program
The Jobs For Life program in Jefferson County graduated its seventh class on Dec. 21, at Deer Ridge Correctional Facility, where the students reside.
Instructor Charitie Gamble said she was inspired to offer the classes at the prison after attending training in 2014. "This class is why we have the Jobs For Life Program in Jefferson County, and now several more sites in the State of Oregon. This is our third class from Deer Ridge and I am excited that, hopefully, more will graduate in the years to come," she said.
The mission of the Jobs For Life program is "Restoring Dignity, Changing Lives, Transforming Communities," and Gamble feels the program is well on its way in honoring that mission.
"These graduates are mountain movers and I am excited and humble to have been in all of my students lives," she said.
When talking to students and asking them why they took the class, what was the best thing they got out of class, and how they are planning to use what they learned in the future, they had the following statements:
Selva: "Through compelling, real life and biblical examples, Ms. Charitie brings the Jobs For Life process to life here at DRCI. This class caused me to re-evaluate how I was living many aspects of my life. It gave me the inspiration I needed to take action, improving those areas and myself in general."
Eric: "When lost, there's a way back, in Luke 19:10 – 'For the Son of man came to seek and save those who are lost.' As for me, I was lost. I remember the first day that I came into class, and as I was sitting in class, Ms. Charitie was explaining what the class was about. She kept talking about God and that we need to put him first and that he will lead us. The best way I can put it is in John 8:12, "I am the Light of the World. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.'"
"So far, this class has drawn me closer to God and it has given me hope for the future. This class has given me hope and a different outlook when it comes to finding a job."
Robert: "I have been through this class twice, as a champion, and I am inspired by the impactful comparisons each time. As Miss Charitie explains the scripture in relation to life and work; It gives us back hope that has been torn away from us and reminds us that we never stopped being people."
Alvin: "This class is great, it helped me on getting one of my jobs in here. Taking this a second time made something different pop out at me. This class is well worth the time you put into it and you will get out of it. It helps you realize you're not an outcast."
Adolfo: "Jobs For Life taught me character traits that will help me carry out a long positive life -- and to use these character traits, like being responsible, honest, man of integrity, being respectful, striving for excellence and perseverance, while being a caring person who has self-discipline and showing courage and fairness."
Patrick: "The overall course study was great! It combined biblical teachings along with job skill building, pre-employment preparations and communications. The group was great and the instructor did an amazing job of keeping the course studies on track and participation of the students high. The class allowed me the opportunity to see the struggles of the those with no or little job skills to flourish and grow in self-confidence as they talked about their abilities and values."
Josh: "This class helped with a sense of hope for the future, to find work in a judgmental world that likes to stigmatize ex-convicts. With the advice received, I feel more confident in searching for a career path when I am finally free again."
"Each class brings a different amount of backgrounds and potential "roadblocks," and having the right tools to reduce or eliminate roadblocks is powerful," Gamble said, adding, "I am grateful for the opportunity to bring a great course to the men of DRCI and Jefferson County, but truthfully to our state. These men will be productive people in society. I think they have the tools to keep up the good work that I know they can do."
Gamble said Jobs For Life is a 12-week course, where each student has to purchase their workbook. That sometimes is hard, but this is a life time investment into who they are and who their identity is in and how that translates into their jobs and families.
The Jobs For Life program is under the umbrella of the Jefferson County Faith Based Network, which is a nonprofit 501C3.
In 2014, Gamble heard about the program at the Christian Community Development Association Conference in North Carolina, and brought it back to Jefferson County to host the first class in the State of Oregon in the spring of 2015.