Christian Women's Job Corps rebounding from COVID slowdown

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Christian Women's Job Corps students Anna Aguilar (front left), Abby Villarreal (front right) and Oleata Haynes (rear left), work on a lesson as former student Sandra Magistro (rear right) sits in. Christy Barron, a former student, guides the students through the lesson.

For 83-year-old Oleata Haynes, learning computers and typing at the Heart of Texas Christian Women's Job Corps in Brownwood is "a whole new ball game."

For former CWJC student Sandra Magistro, the ministry is a place of "support and love" where she's been prayed for and gained confidence.

For Linda Trujillo, also a former CWJC student who works there as an intern, it's a place where "you start out as a person and end up being a family."

From its facility at 2410 Coggin in Brownwood, the Heart of Texas CWJC job is emerging from a COVID-induced two-year slowdown. This Tuesday, the ministry will have its first dinner fundraiser and live dessert auction for the first time in two years. In 2019 — the last year the fundraiser was held — about 240 people attended, and about $16,000 was raised, executive site director Casey Moore said.

Linda Trujillo (left), who works as an intern at the Christian Women's Job Corps in Brownwood, and executive director Casey Moore are pictured in the clothing room, where students can pick out attire for job interviews.

Ticket sales — which ended last week — have been on a par with 2019, Moore said.

“We are very, very excited. We’re looking forward to it. We’ve missed having it," she said.

The Heart of Texas CWJC can have up to 12 students for each 12-week semester.

Because of COVID, the spring 2020 semester was canceled. The CWJC managed to have a fall 2020 semester but had only three students graduate. The spring 2021 semester was canceled, and in the fall 2021 semester, five students graduated.

This semester — spring 2022 — four students are enrolled.

Christian Women's Job Corps mentors Jackye Leal far (right) and Lawan Israel (front right) teach a Bible lesson to students Abby Villarreal, Oleata Haynes and Irma Hernandez.

"The numbers are just slow in returning," Moore said. "We are praying that our numbers will increase for the fall. For the six years I have been there, we have always graduated eight to 10 students. So we sure are praying, now that COVID is behind us, that more women will enroll. We have seen a drop in a little of everything, from enrollment to financial to lunch volunteers."

Christian Women's Job Corps seeks to equip women, in a Christian environment, for life and employment. The ministry helps women each year gain self-confidence, purpose, direction and hope for their future by offering life skills, job skills, mentoring, and Bible study. Class sessions are offered each spring and fall, with formal graduation ceremonies capping each session.

Christian Women's Job Corps students Abby Villarreal (foreground) and Anna Aguilar work through a lesson Thursday morning.

The Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps is described as a compassion ministry of the Woman's Missionary Union, an auxiliary organization of the Southern Baptist Convention. 

The Heart of Texas CWJC offers:

• A curriculum of job and life skills taught by local professionals.

• Classes including Bible study, resume writing, computers, English, math, bookkeeping, parenting and money management.

There is no cost to students. Childcare expenses are covered along with classroom material and a daily meal. Two 12-week semesters are offered each year.

Casey Moore, executive director of the Christian Women's Job Corps in Brownwood, watches as student Oleata Haynes works on a lesson.

The CWJC's job skills and life skills classes "equip women with confidence to make the transition to the world of work, to a more fulfilling career or future educational goals," a CWJC brochure states.