After participating in a Cleveland event, Ben Seigel, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships, came to Stow for the meet-and-greet. He also toured Stow Community United Church of Christ, where the club meets twice monthly.
Seigel had already met club founder Diana Miller last May, when she served as a contributor in a roundtable discussion hosted by the center in Washington. The Stow club was just one of 10 clubs in the nation invited to participate.
Miller said the Stow club was showcased as one of several stellar examples of volunteers reaching out and providing extensive free resources to unemployed individuals in their community.
That reaching out occurs from 3 to 5 p.m. the second Thursday of each month and from 7 to 9 p.m. the fourth Thursday at the Stow church. Networking and resume-review sessions begin 30 minutes prior to meetings, which feature presentations and workshops.
“We help members organize their job searches. We teach them how to develop a resume, hone interviewing skills, learn how to network and how to target the types of positions they’re a good fit for,” said Miller, a professional career management consultant.
She knows firsthand what it’s like to switch careers mid-stream. Miller worked more than 20 years as a substance abuse counselor before burning out. She turned to Ricklin-Echikson Associates for assistance, and ended up getting hired as a career consultant.
In June 2009, she founded The Career Navigation Group LLC in Munroe Falls, a full-service outplacement company that provides private career management consulting and other services.
“I started attending job clubs in Northeast Ohio to see what they were all about. I kept hearing sad stories of people out of work for a year or longer. Then I realized there wasn’t a job club in the Stow-Munroe Falls area,” Miller said.
She set up shop at Mocha Joe’s two years ago and, by the following spring, the informal club had outgrown the space.
Miller reached out to the Stow Clergy Association for help, and the United Church of Christ offered space and clerical assistance. That’s when the Community Job Club of Stow got its official name.
Miller said the club draws 20 to 30 people to each session. Volunteers not only provide job-search-related help, but also emotional support and counseling.
One member whose life has changed because of the club is Roger Hollis of Green, who was downsized last March by his employer of 13 years. He started attending job club meetings about three months ago, and now serves as the group's strategic planner.
“It became quite apparent that at my age (68), I’m never going to find a full-time job again. It’s not something to get upset about. It’s just the reality of life,” Hollis said.
He took to heart the job club’s message about each member becoming “the CEO of your career” and is starting a business as a contract consultant.
And now, Hollis is delivering the club’s messages to others.
“We tell our members they need to realize it’s not the same-old-same-old job market out there,” he said. “You’ve got to chart your own course – even if that means moving outside the box you’ve been in. It’s a hard decision for people to make. But everyone has the ability to manage their own career and move forward.”