Business owner gives back by starting job-seekers workshopPublished 11:08am Friday, February 26, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
When Roger Sassaman lost his job last year, he spent six months of frustration looking for work.
He found help in an unlikely place – behind the doors of a church. A congregation in Elkhart was offering a job seeking assistance program.
Now employed again, Sassaman wants to give back to the community in the same way.
He is part of a group of people at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Cassopolis who will be offering a series of back-to-work skills workshops in March.
Sassaman said his experience at the church in Elkhart was beneficial.
“It was really a good thing,” he said. “It supported people with dignity and was helpful. They made a lot of good suggestions.”
Sassaman and about a dozen of his friends in a Bible study at St. Paul will offer workshops on interview skills, resume writing, finding jobs online and starting a business.
Gary Brekke, who has owned Gary’s Furniture Restoration in Niles for 35 years, will give suggestions on how to start a business.
With unemployment in Michigan at 14.6 percent, Brekke said the group saw a community need and wants to address it.
“We see a lot of people out of work, losing their homes. It’s sad to see it,” he said.
The workshops will offer computers with Internet access and training on how to find jobs online. Mock interviews and help with writing cover letters will also be provided.
Sassaman says more than anything the group offers years of wisdom and experience and contacts within the community.
“With all of our experience and our backgrounds, we should be able to help them,” Sassaman said. “If we can’t help them, we can direct them to where they can get the help they need.”
Brekke says they will also offer emotional support and open ears for people to talk about their struggles in finding work.
“We’ll pray for them and give them spiritual uplifting too,” he said. “That’s the main emphasis is to find that job and help them spiritually.”
Workshops dates are scheduled for March 9, 16, 23 and 30 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 305 West State St. Cassopolis. For more information, call the church at 445-3950 or contact Vivian Jimenez at (269) 559-0058.