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Inmates comment on the benefits of the Jobs for Life program they recently compleated.

The 10th Jefferson County class of the Jobs for Life Program, led by instructor Charitie Lansing, recently graduated at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution.

In 2014, Lansing went with a local group to North Carolina to learn about the program at the Christian Community Development Association Conference. She brought the program to Jefferson County in the spring of 2015, and hosted the first class in the state.

"This class is why we have the Jobs for Life Program in Jefferson County and now several more sites in the state of Oregon. I was sitting in my hotel room in North Carolina back in 2014, when God showed me a graduating class from DRCI," said Lansing. "This is our fourth from Deer Ridge, and I am excited that hopefully more will graduate in the years to come."

"The mission of the Jobs for Life program is, 'Restoring Dignity, Changing Lives, Transforming Communities,' and I feel that we are well on our way in honoring that mission statement," said Lansing, who considers the program unlike other job-preparing classes. "These graduates are mountain movers and I am excited and humble to have been in all of my students' lives."

"When talking to students and asking them why they took the class, what is the best thing you got out of class, and how are you planning to use what you learned in the future," she said, the students shared the following statements:

Eric — "Moving forward, dealing with questionable conduct, I feel being prudent, applying discernment and not being impulsive will only benefit all parties involved. It was wrote somewhere, 'You cannot push a wave onto the shore any faster than the ocean brings it in.' Ultimately saying, change is a process, establishing trust, friendship and honor is a process that will only brighten my future."

Fred — "While going through the workbook, a journey was taken. A journey of past shame and hurt but carefully (reminding) us of our ability to become a new creature in God. As each roadblock was disassembled, our road to success became accessible. Each concept was practiced over and over. It became clear that we would find, not only courage, but faith within ourselves."

Mark — "Jobs for Life helped me overcome some barriers of the interview process. I'm better able and prepared to answer questions revolving around my work history gaps and my criminal history. I feel more confident and more optimistic in my approach to job searches and interacting with other agencies in the community. I know with practice I will get better. I found the workbook to be very resourceful, spiritual, reflective and insightful. With the help of our facilitator, Miss Charitie, I was able to identify negative emotional roadblocks and learn lifechanging alternatives, such as stronger communication, honesty and conflict resolution skills. I still have work to do on my self-esteem and insecurities, but I feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel after taking the Jobs for Life Program and I am grateful for that."

Maurice — "I signed up for the class because I wanted to do programming and thought it sounded like a good class to take. My justification was simple; if they are going to charge for the class, it must be worth it. While I have learned many things from the class, I feel it would benefit someone who was looking for a career much more than someone who is established in one. This should not be taken negatively; it is a great class and I really enjoyed it. I will be walking away from the Jobs for Life with improved interviewing skills, personal presentation and interviewer engagement."

Sixto — "Why did I take the Jobs for Life class? Originally, I thought if they are going to charge me $15 to be in the class, then it has to be worth it. After being in the class a couple of weeks, I came to realize that I was getting a lot out of it. It has helped me to come out of my shell and be more comfortable speaking in front of people. I have learned how to control my anxiety and fidgeting while speaking to others. I believe the most important thing Jobs for Life has taught me is that God has a purpose for me; even though I never knew it, he has always had a plan. Honestly, I believe this was part of that plan. This program has taught me how to be humble in all situations life brings. I need to persevere and work hard in everything I do, and God will bless me. I highly recommend this class for everyone."

William — "Like anyone seeking their own way in life, I was given certain skills and abilities. Therefore universally, I was certain in my searching and seeking God would reveal his will to grant me the insights as to my abilities that I have. The accepting of Jesus Christ into my life has given me more purpose and direct view of God's will into my life in continuing my education and coupled with the hands-on experiences, helped me ply my craft and profession. Why I continued to believe in Jobs for Life? The effort to believe in my chosen direction became more evidently clear when I have been fortunate enough to have the direction offered by the Jobs for Life class."

Zack — "I am extremely grateful that I could return to the course as a co-instructor. The first time going through class was a real eyeopener to God in the workplace. I had no idea that scripture spoke on working. The second time around, I found the stories a lot more relatable. Being able to read my previous thoughts and see where I was then compared to now shows me that I have grown in spirit even in the last six months. Another part I want to be a part of this class was to give back. As we only see Ms. Charitie once a week, I figured I could be of help to the other classmates. I enjoyed working with each one of them and hope they do well. Helping others makes life better for all those involved. For me, it helped continuing to remove my walls of isolation. As I am close to release, I hope I can use the tools and scriptures that I have learned to help me succeed in the real work. I used to be scared about what might happen in the future, but now I give that to God and look forward to visiting with potential employers."

"Each class brings a different amount of backgrounds and potential roadblocks, and having the right tools to reduce or eliminate roadblocks is powerful," said Lansing. "I am grateful for the opportunity to bring a great global course to the men of DRCI and people of Jefferson County. I think they have the tools to keep up the good work that I know they can do."

"One of my favorite videos is the video called 'Flip the List,' which you can Google and watch; it is impactful and shares why working is so important to us as individuals, as a family member and community members. I challenge everyone reading this to watch the video. It changed how I look at the four-letter word called 'work.'"

The Jobs for Life program is a 12-week course. Students must purchase their workbooks, which presents a challenge for some, Lansing said, adding "but this is a lifetime 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. To learn more about Jobs for Life Program or the Faith-Based Network, you can attend their monthly meeting on the third Thursday of each month at 12 p.m., at St. Charles Madras.

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