By Grace Thornton
When Letitia Theodore arrived in Hattiesburg, she had just lived through Hurricane Katrina, losing her New Orleans home and all its belongings. Today, she has completed the Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) program and is the first Mississippi participant to receive the Dove award out of a pool of national nominations.
“For all involved in our ministry, it will bring joy for us to see recognition paid to a very special young lady knowing how far she has come since we first met her. Also, this might be incentive for other women to do what it takes to make changes in their lives,” said Linda Donnell, coordinator of the Pinebelt CWJC site that Theodore graduated from.
The Dove award is given to one lady who is either a graduate or currently participating in an accredited CWJC site. It is intended to benefit women at least 30 years of age who are rebuilding their lives and who desire to improve themselves through the acquisition of skills or academic pursuits which will lead to self reliant living and give assistance to the development of children under ten years of age.
“I was a very sad person, and my life had no meaning before being a part of CWJC. I came to Christian Women’s Job Corps because I was looking forward to a new opportunity to study the Bible and meet new people. It was a wonderful experience. The program was the light of my day. Coming here made me feel better about myself,” Theodore said.
The purpose of CWJC, a ministry of Woman’s Missionary Union, is to provide a Christian context in which women in need receive training in life skills and job readiness. Additionally, each participant is involved in Bible study and works one-on-one with a mentor.
“Letitia is the first one in our state to receive the award. Only one person a year out of the nation receives this, so I’m very proud that we have a participant that has received this. We are honoring a lady who was really working through self sufficiency and made it through the program,” said Sandra Nash, CWJC State Coordinator.
Theodore, who has a seven-year-old daughter, completed the program in 2006 and has been working since her completion. She has continued to seek training for her work and has been an energetic cheerleader for CWJC, continuing to recruit as well as volunteer during her off times.
“My life has changed so much because I am working at Aldersgate Mission. I have become a better person, a better mother, and my self-esteem is much higher. I don’t let things get me down. I always go to God with all of my problems and praise Him. I know now that I can’t make it without Him. He has brought me a mighty long way,” Theodore said.
Theodore credits Donnell for teaching her “the most powerful thing” she’s learned: “Life is not fair. You have to play the hand that you are dealt.”
“Winning the award means so much for the monetary help that it will give to a very deserving participant. The money will mean so much to her,” Donnell said.
“Our Pinebelt site began in 2002 after about a year of prayer, needs assessment, training and other preparations. I believe very strongly that I was called to the CWJC ministry. The very first time I heard about the national program, it grabbed my heart. The biggest pull was the fact that the ministry is a hand up, not a hand out program,” Donnell said. “I now see it as following the example of Christ. Because I had had women in my life who had mentored and encouraged me, after my retirement, I knew I wanted to work with less fortunate women and invest in their lives.”
Mississippi currently has 13 CWJC sites and 1 Christian Men’s Job Corp site. The Margaret Lackey state mission offering provides award pins and devotional books for student participants. The allocation also provides the monies needed for the promotion and advancement of CWJC/CMJC across Mississippi. For more information, contact Tammy Anderson in the WMU office at 800-748-1651, ext.323 or firstname.lastname@example.org.