Free career guidance program at Hopewell Christian Fellowship

Hopewell parishioner Jon Sparh has been leading the Crossroads Career Network classes at Hopewell Christian Fellowship since the program began.

ELVERSON - Hopewell Christian Fellowship is hosting its free Crossroads Career Network program on Monday nights in March and April to help individuals find a career which is right for them.

“This program is open to the entire community,” said Mark Kraybill, Pastor of Care, Community, and Outreach for Hopewell Christian Fellowship. “We have seen results, and this program is a real asset to individuals looking to find a job or update their job. Last year was our best group yet, with over 30 people registering, and there was a great response with people getting jobs… … one gentleman received four job offers.”

Crossroads uses several online career resources (including the Crossroads nation-wide job database) in tandem with friendly and supportive instructional group sessions in order to take participants through a six-stage process that involves career exploration and job search techniques.

Hopewell has been offering the Crossroads program to the public for five consecutive years, and Kraybill said that the majority of those who complete the program do go on to find jobs.

“Our intent with this program is to help meet needs that are important for the people of the church and the community,” Kraybill explained, “with this program we equip people with the tools to manage their careers.”

Kraybill discovered the program six years ago, when he and a four unemployed Hopewell Christian Fellowship parishioners visited a church in Lancaster County to check out the Crossroads Career program. Ultimately, each Hopewell participant found a job, so Kraybill registered Hopewell Christian Fellowship as a local host site for the Crossroads program.

One of those original four parishioners, Jon Spahr, has been leading the Hopewell Crossroads program since its inception. Spahr said that looking for a new direction after being in the workforce for a long time can be tough because it is a whole different world than the one you remember.

“In 2008 I lost my job, and I was unemployed for seven months,” Spahr said. “You get ‘shell shocked’ when you have spent several years in the workforce. and then one day it is suddenly over. The days of walking into a business and handing in a paper copy of a resume are all but gone (so) Crossroads provides people with the technology and the tools needed for today’s job market.”

As Spahr put it, Crossroads approaches unemployment and underemployment simply as “a transition period” between the present and a future of being gainfully employed in a career or a vocation. He said that Crossroads first helps a person identify their strengths and talents, and then helps them lay out a plan and develop a strategy toward achieving their goal.

The program involves activities such as participating in mock interviews, building a powerful resume, and becoming familiar with the professional networking process. Special guests, such as local human resources professionals and executive officers, pay visits to the group sessions to offer real-life insight into what businesses look for in job candidates.

Spahr said that the lessons offered by Crossroads are suitable for those of all ages and from all walks of life. He has led classes where attendees ranged from corporate executives to the homeless. There are even resources for helping the self-employed land freelance and contract work.

“When I was younger I would have loved to have had access to a program like this,” Spahr said. “It is very helpful.”

Dave Leib, 43, of Geigertown, is a member of Hopewell Fellowship Church who took part in the Crossroads program in 2011. A month after completing the program he found a job as VP of Special Projects for a firm in Robesonia, a job which he said is right in line with his prior experience as a CFO.

“Crossroads was definitely a great experience. There is comfort in numbers (and) it is very useful to hear the concerns of others, and their frustrations too. I was surprised with the various backgrounds of those in the group, but all were there with one interest in mind.”

For Leib, the most fruitful gains came from learning how to best focus his finite energy and resources for a job search.

“(After) being in the workforce for 20 years my job searching skills were dull. Crossroads helped me developing a myriad of skills I needed at that time. It was a ‘soup to nuts’ program on how to conduct a productive job search.”

While there is no cost to participate in Crossroads, attendees need to work hard in order to gain the desired results from the experience. Those who show the greatest level of dedication to the program are the ones who traditionally see better results.

“This program definitely requires a fair amount of independence because you also need to put in time outside of the classes – at least one or two hours a week,” Spahr said. “This is not remedial, and we do not hold your hand through it, but the more you invest into it the more you will take away from it.”

After completion of the program, Crossroads participants will continue to have access to the job database. Plus Spahr said he is happy to make himself available to Crossroads ‘grads’ in need of support.

As a Christian-based program, the Crossroads material incorporates scripture and biblical references, yet it does so in a manner which is inviting and all-inclusive.

“Certainly there is a biblical perspective to the program, we open and close each meeting with prayer, for example, but we do not place any pressure on anyone. We are simply here to help you recognize and use the gifts which God gave you - your passion and your talent,” Spahr said.

Kraybill stressed that individuals should register soon as possible for the program if they want to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. The web address for registration is http://www.hopewellchurch.org/marriagefamily/crossroads_career_network

Hopewell Christian Fellowship is located at 2286 Hopewell Road, Elverson, PA 19520. Call 610-286-6308 for additional information.

Program classes are held March 4 (introduction class – attendance not required, but encouraged), 11, 18, 25, and April 1, 8, 15 and 22. Classes begin at 7 p.m. and typically run 90 minutes in length.

Find the Tri County Record on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TriCountyRecord, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/TriCountyRecord, and search for Berks-Mont News, our six-publication newsgroup, on Google Plus.

Join the Conversation