Secretary of Labor visits Cascade job symposium
By JENNIFER THOMAS
Foster Smith III was excited to return to Cascade United Methodist Church recently, where he’s been visiting for the past year and a half. He was among the handful of job seekers invited to speak one-on-one with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.
“I was impressed with the attentiveness [Secretary Solis] gave me,” Smith says. “As I spoke to her and gave her my responses and feelings, I sincerely felt she was listening. I didn’t view her as a politician; I viewed her as someone who wanted to change the status quo.”
Changing the order of things is of dire importance to Smith who is among 14 million unemployed Americans. He was one of the several hundred attendees who attended the October 5 job symposium, “On the Front Lines of Getting Americans Back to Work,” sponsored bythe Department of Labor's Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (CFBNP).
The symposium comes four months after CFBNP launched its new “Job Clubs” initiative aimed at building a nationwide directory and technical assistance resource for job clubs, career transition ministries, and other support groups for the unemployed. The Cascade Career Network (CCN) served as the host group. The symposium was one of the first events in the Atlanta area which brought the local groups together.
During the three-hour event, participants and attendees who also included development officials, nonprofit leaders, and employers, heard from several panelists providing personal stories and insights into the world of finding jobs in a tough economy. Secretary Solis, along with Cascade Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Marvin A. Moss, also heard stories from Smith and a handful of others in a personal session.
“We were blessed to be able to partner with the Department of Labor and Secretary Solis to get information out about the opportunities available for those who have committed themselves to fighting the good fight,” says Dr. Moss, who also spoke with the Secretary during a press conference outside of the church. “Cascade is a Light in the Community and the more people we touch, the brighter that Light will shine.”
For Smith, a former account executive and grandfather of a college student, finding jobs in a tough economy is not just a challenge, but it is also a faith challenge. He credits Cascade and its Career Network with helping him “retool” himself. The ministry provides fundamental resources, seminars and workshops to job seekers and others who are changing careers.
“CCN has been very important to me,” Smith reflects. “The dynamics of the unemployment market are very different now and I wasn’t prepared.” He says classes on resume writing, interview skills and LinkedIn have been beneficial. “Spiritually it has helped me to stay positive.”