Jobs Partnership Volunteers Discover What They Were Made For

One of the biggest questions in our lives is “What were we made for?” This is a question that Jobs Partnership Volunteers are answering, through their hands-on, personal work with individuals in our community. Volunteers are a critical part of Jobs Partnership’s mission to give chronically underemployed men and women the opportunity to achieve their full potential in the workplace and in life through an innovative training process called LifeWorks. The unique course features both practical and Biblical teaching that transforms the head and heart. Students are taught by seasoned, volunteer Instructors and are paired with volunteer Coaches who are a support to them throughout the course.

“When you get to your low, you’re low. What I was doing wasn’t working, so something had to change,” says LifeWorks Graduate Sharian McKinney. “At that point in my life, I needed all the help and tools I could get, because by myself, I couldn’t do it.” With the help of the LifeWorks Training and dedicated Volunteers, Sharian completed the course. “When I walked through Graduation I had such pride, and then thought, ‘Can I not still show up on Tuesdays and Thursdays?’”

“Each person I see make that transformation, I can feel I’ve helped in some way. It just wants to make me do more,” says Dr. Barbara McLean-Smith, referring to the personal motivation and encouragement she receives as a volunteer LifeWorks Head Coach and Instructor. “A lot of people come and have either been misguided, misinformed or miseducated as to what values in life are all about. And to be able to give that without pushing, it’s an ‘A-ha’ moment for not only the participant but the trainer, the mentor, the coach as well.”

Volunteers are truly the lifeblood of Jobs Partnership’s LifeWorks course. Through many volunteer opportunities, whether it’s coaching, assisting during an event like the Resource Fair, or one-time opportunities, talented individuals have the chance to not only give back, but to connect with and serve others in a highly personal way.

“The Jobs Partnership is one of the only organizations I know of that bring many people together, from many different backgrounds, to reach out and help somebody else,” Volunteer Team Leader Tom Lovett says. “Our Coaches, our Volunteers are not on their own when they volunteer, they always have a partner. So even if they’re new, they can partner with someone who’s been there, who has the experience to help them along the way.”

The Jobs Partnership works with all Volunteers to provide hands-on and in-depth training, ensuring they’re equipped to help the Students in the LifeWorks course. As they both go through the 12-week course, Students and Coaches form a bond. Not only do the Coaches and Instructors learn about the Students’ struggles but they also learn about their passions and what drives them. They walk alongside them and build relationships that often last longer than just the LifeWorks course.

“I grow every time I’m able to go into my tool box and take something out that they gave me. I think that just makes me grow, I can’t help it,” Sharian continues. “I never once thought of bringing God into the workplace, and now I deal with customers and problems so differently, and with a different grace…and I got that because of the tools The Jobs Partnership gave me through the LifeWorks class.”

“To those people interested at all in doing something in the community, I would say that The Jobs Partnership is the perfect organization to take a look at,” concludes Tom Lovett. “I can’t say I’ve met anyone who said they were sorry, once they got involved with Jobs Partnership, that they ever came to observe a class. In fact, most of those folks end up volunteering because they see how easy it is.”

To find out more about volunteering with The Jobs Partnership’s LifeWorks training course, contact your church’s JP Representative, visit the Volunteers page or Apply Now.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Changing one life at a time…

Last week I attended the Rotary Club’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner for the parents and children who attend Killarney Elementary School (a Title I school) in Winter Park. Before the children took the stage for their performance, the principal of the school asked me to say a few words to the parents about the Jobs Partnership and our next LifeWorks training class that would be starting at the school in February.

The cafeteria was filled to capacity and as I took the stage and saw the large crowd, I was suddenly overwhelmed with compassion, knowing that many of them were like sheep without a shepherd – it turns out that quite a few families in the audience live in the hotels on Lee Road.  As I waited my turn to speak, I began to make eye contact with several parents and instantly the United Way’s statistics had a face:

47% of working families in Orange County don’t make enough money to pay for basic monthly necessities and two-thirds of them are qualified for public assistance.

The children performed the same songs my children used to sing around this time of year and then everyone made a bee-line to the food. I stood around wondering what to do next, and after the line died down, I made myself a plate and squeezed into one of the long cafeteria tables between several families. I talked to the families around me and then turned to meet Helen on my left, along with her 3 daughters. She is a single mom struggling to make life work. She asked about the LifeWorks training and the more I talked about it, her countenance changed.

As she told me more of her story, I was reminded of JP grad Sonya Coleman. She too was a single mom of three, who came to JP working part time as a Deli Clerk at a national retail chain. She was living in public housing, in an abusive relationship, and knew that she needed a change if she was going to provide for her children. We helped Sonya discover and pursue her interest in healthcare and now she is an RN at Florida Hospital, finishing up her Masters Degree as a Nurse Practitioner at UCF! To see her full story, go to

As we enter the holiday season, I am writing to ask for your support so we can expand the number of LifeWorks training sites in Orange County. I know it’s cliché but we need your time, talent and treasure to serve more people in more places so they can discover and pursue a career that will lead them to a family-sustaining wage…and restoring hope through our network of Churches engaged in relevant ministry.

You can volunteer and give online by going to our website at

Happy Thanksgiving!

Marc Stanakis


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JP Celebrates Spring 2016 LifeWorks Graduates

The Jobs Partnership LifeWorks Graduation isn’t just the end of a course. In the same way that LifeWorks is more than a class, Graduation is more than just its completion. It’s a celebration of all the Students have accomplished and moreover, a celebration of their new hope and path for the future. Graduating LifeWorks represents a tremendous accomplishment–and a significant milestone of success in Students’ lives.

The most recent LifeWorks Graduation Celebration took place on May 23, 2016 at the landmark First Presbyterian Church of Orlando on 106 East Church Street. Family members, Volunteers, Church Partners, Employer Partners and Jobs Partnership staff came together to celebrate the graduation of 65 LifeWorks Students, seven of which have already enrolled at Valencia College this year.

“I have heard many Students say ‘This is the first thing that I have ever completed,’” says Kimberly Hooper, LifeWorks Program Manager. “It is cause for many Students to celebrate as their families gather to share their loved one’s accomplishment.”

Over the length of the course, Students have built relationships with their Coaches, made new friends with other Students who’ve shared this journey with them, been introduced to Community Resources and Employers, and have made connections with the Church Partners for continual support and encouragement. This “dream team” of individuals and organizations attend the Graduation Celebration to cheer on the Students as they take the next step on their new path in life.

The Jobs Partnership puts in every effort to make this event as special as possible for the Student. They invite key speakers that will applaud the Students’ accomplishments and inspire them to achieve even more for themselves and their families, which in turn positively affects their communities. The Jobs Partnership Event Volunteers give a warm welcome and set the tone of excitement for the Students as they arrive. Awards and recognition for achievements like “perfect attendance” and “completion of all course work” reinforce the character traits that The Jobs Partnership emphasizes throughout LifeWorks Training.

Many of the students come from different backgrounds and walks of life. The Jobs Partnership’s unique combination of churches, employers and community organizations help bring together people with diverse backgrounds to work towards the common goal of reaching the “working poor” and underemployed in Central Florida. Amidst these current times of tension in our nation, The Jobs Partnership helps to foster unity, hope and healing as people of all walks of life serve alongside one another to eradicate poverty in our communities. The LifeWorks Graduation is a beautiful portrait of that unity as they all celebrate the success they’ve had, and the success to come.

“Our hope is that the Students feel that there are now people who care and who they can reach out to in the future as they continue on their journey,” says Kimberly. When asked what the LifeWorks Graduation should accomplish in Students, “We hope that they will have an understanding of the support behind them as they take the steps to better themselves toward success. Graduation is a celebration, a turning point for them to realize they are now on The Way Up…and they are not alone!”

Looking For A Career? Check Out The Short-Term Training Opportunities Through Our Partnership With Valencia

To learn more about these short-term training opportunities, download the document below.

Download Document

The Jobs Partnership Casts Vision, Launches Campaign to Expand Reach in Central Florida

The Jobs Partnership has never been busier. Since its founding in 1999, the faith-based non-profit has been working in Central Florida to train, mentor and connect struggling men and women to resources, short-term training and employers in high-growth industries. The organization’s groundbreaking work is providing a duplicative process that gives people a second chance. In other words, its growth potential is almost limitless–but not without challenges.

In the Spring of 2015, The Jobs Partnership made the decision to revise certain aspects of what was then called their Life & Work program, the centerpiece of the organization’s offerings to the working poor. In addition to making changes to the course format and curriculum, the name of the program was changed to LifeWorks Training and a new logo was developed. The Jobs Partnership also created a Student Recruitment marketing strategy. Out of that strategy, a new brand architecture and new recruitment communications were produced. Their efforts certainly paid off: the classes became filled with qualified candidates from JP’s church and community partners, including their newest partner, OCPS Title I. Schools. In addition, new momentum was building within the organization and among its network of educational, community and employer Partners.

But in order for the LifeWorks course to continue on its path of growth, the team at The Jobs Partnership realized the need to increase their reach into existing and potential supporting churches, volunteers and the community at large. Churches and Volunteers are the lifeblood of the LifeWorks course—they collaborate to operate the LifeWorks training sites around Central Florida. Many more are needed in order to reach The Jobs Partnership’s goal of 1500 enrolled LifeWorks Students per year, by 2024. With this goal in mind, in the Spring of 2016 The Jobs Partnership began to develop and launch a new strategy and marketing materials to attract new churches, volunteers and employers.

Along with this “Church Campaign” initiative, The Jobs Partnership embarked on development of a new Website and Content Library that’s now the organized hub of all communications and resources, with specific areas for each audience: Students, Churches, Volunteers, Community Resources, Employers and Financial Supporters. This has enabled the sharing of compelling stories and information about what The Jobs Partnership is doing—literally empowering everyone to be informed and promote the organization to others using simple, highly visual and mobile-friendly tools with one common message: “We Were All Made For This.”

WSJ: Employers Find ‘Soft Skills’ Like Critical Thinking in Short Supply

The Wall Street Journal recently posted an article recently that discussed the increasingly large gap between Employers’ hiring needs and job candidates’ ability to fulfill those needs–specifically, their lack of much-desired ‘soft skills’:

“Companies across the U.S. say it is becoming increasingly difficult to find applicants can communicate clearly, take initiative, problem-solve and get along with coworkers. Those traits, often called soft skills, can make the difference between a standout employee and one who just gets by. While such skills have always appealed to employers, decades-long shifts in the economy have made them especially crucial now.”

Download the Full Article PDF

Church Partnerships: What the Church Was Made For

From the very beginning, The Jobs Partnership has been in partnership with the Church. It all began in Raleigh, North Carolina when Rev. Donald McCoy and construction executive Chris Mangum began meeting regularly for lunch after Mangum worked on a parking lot for Rev. McCoy’s church. Over the course of these lunches, Mangum revealed that he was struggling to find drivers for his trucks, while Rev. McCoy expressed that he had men in his church struggling to find jobs. They immediately saw an opportunity to solve both problems by working together. With this new-found partnership, McCoy reached out to other churches in the community and began the “faith and work” initiative. Marc Stanakis encountered this model at a conference in Washington, D.C., and brought it to the Workforce 2020 workforce development initiative in Florida. Its success in the pilot program led to formation of The Jobs Partnership.

“Our church had a desire to transform a particular community in Orlando, but we didn’t want it to be a band-aid approach. We wanted to change a community, systemically, over the long-term,” recounts Dr. David Swanson, Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando. “We asked, what are the models out there that are doing it effectively? That’s how we found Jobs Partnership.”

The Jobs Partnership’s way of community transformation stands out from other job-training programs. Built on the Biblical truth that all people are created and designed by God to work, The Jobs Partnership provides the framework for churches to mobilize their congregations to serve the poor through an innovative, no-cost training program for struggling men and women called LifeWorks. LifeWorks is complemented by The Jobs Partnership’s vast Educational and Community Partners, along with a network of over 200 Employers.

“The value for our church has been to engage really gifted business leaders in a way that’s going to grow and build the Kingdom–to help them see the connection between their gifts and what the needs are in the community.” Dr. Swanson continues. “There’s been value in allowing our people to see that not everyone has had the same opportunities they’ve had, and that there are people who, with just a little extra help can begin to find employment…and it just lifts who they are.”

Churches looking to see their congregation grow in service see The Jobs Partnership as a stepping stone for their volunteers, who may go on to even greater commitments. Volunteers commit to the 12 week program, and oftentimes, their passion for volunteering doesn’t stop there. Following the program, many church members continue into other ministries, engaging in their purpose in a deeper way.

“What Jobs Partnership does is offer this incredible opportunity to develop a habit of service. It’s not an afternoon serving. It’s walking alongside with people who are underemployed or unemployed for a season,” says Lynette Fields, Director of Missions at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. “That has helped us, having that in-depth type of ministry, meet our goal of discipleship not only with a longer-term commitment but also developing a relationship with people who are very different, or who they may not come in contact with each other in everyday life. They are able to become committed to each other for this particular journey. If it’s meaningful, if it’s relevant, if volunteers can use their particular gifts, passions, strengths and they can see that it makes a difference…whether they get a thank you, or whether they get a reward is not as important as whether their time is valued.”

Working with The Jobs Partnership, churches are able to take part in highly relevant ministry. They see their congregation serving the poor and providing help to struggling families in their church. By discovering community resources for their members, churches are able to build a network that will benefit their members. Churches are able to build cross-denominational church relationships and extend their exposure and reach in the community.

“If you just try engaging with The Jobs Partnership, from any vantage point; sending Volunteers, sending Students, going to graduation, or volunteering to speak in one of the classes, you’ll see how valuable the program is,” says Leroy Rose III, Senior Pastor of New Covenant Baptist Church of Orlando.

“Many times you have Students right in your congregation, and you are a gatekeeper,” says Dr. Sylvester Robinson, Senior Pastor of Love Fellowship Christian Church and The Jobs Partnership Board Chairman. “Often the Students might not be sitting in the room but as you minister, someone is going to tell their cousin who will tell their cousin that there’s a program you can engage with. ‘Come with me, let’s go talk to the pastor, let’s go online, let’s fill out the application. Let’s get involved with this program called The Jobs Partnership.’ I’m telling you, it works.”

Student Story – Sonya Coleman

Sonya Coleman was a single mother in an abusive relationship who worked a minimum wage job. Through a contact at Orange County’s Head Start program where her children were enrolled, Sonya learned about The Jobs Partnership and made the choice to apply for LifeWorks. Hear her story of perseverance, from extreme hardship to personal and professional triumph, through learning life-changing skills and experiencing the help of others.

Student Stories: Faith That Works

Follow 4 powerful stories of men who felt there was no hope for them in the workforce, but found hope and so much more through the people that taught and mentored them in the LifeWorks class. Listen to Graduates John Hathcock, Ken Nichols, Randy Dannic, and Chris Curry share their incredible stories of what happened when they became Students of LifeWorks, along with commentary of Volunteer Bruce May.