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 www.jobspartnership.org/lifeworks

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 www.jobspartnership.org.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Marc Stanakis


Business Church Community Volunteer