A couple years ago, Susan* came through Begin Anew: Williamson, a CWJC/CMJC site in Tennessee. She was in a place of feeling hopeless and lacked the resources, training, and support to change her circumstances. Susan told the program director Angela that she was a cancer survivor looking to get her GED. Since then Susan’s life has completely changed. “She received her diploma in December 2019 and has been a witness to all she can about what God has done for her,” said Angela. “Through Susan’s process, she accepted Christ as her Savior and found out that her cancer had returned.”
Since October 2007, Begin Anew: Williamson has empowered people to overcome obstacles caused by poverty by serving those in Middle Tennessee whose income meets the federal guidelines for poverty. These individuals are hard workers who work long hours earning less than a living wage. Their employment doesn’t provide sick leave, vacation days, health benefits, or education and advancement opportunities. When they miss work for any reason, they don’t get paid.
Begin Anew aims to reverse these effects of poverty. “We are a ministry that works with those in poverty who are in need of education, resources, or encouraging,” said Angela. “We do that by providing three educational tracks: English as a second language, HiSet preparation, and job/computer skills. As we are holistic, we also provide a weekly Bible study for our enrolled students. We look to teach this generation to teach the next.”
Susan isn’t the only one who’s been impacted by Begin Anew: Williamson. In fact, the site serves 150 individuals yearly. The students are willing to commit to four-to-five hours a week in the classroom while also meeting one-on-one with a volunteer who offers support and encouragement. Persons of all faiths and cultures are supported in order for them to realize solutions to their economic, emotional, relational, educational, vocational, and spiritual poverty.
Without the staff, volunteers, and supporters of Begin Anew: Williamson, none of this would be possible. Volunteers help by tutoring, encouraging, praying, teaching, or providing snacks. “Our volunteers are absolutely crucial to what we do,” said Angela. “We could not open our doors without our volunteers. My volunteers at Williamson log in around 200 hours monthly as we meet two nights and one day a week. Because of the hard work of these individuals, we have impacted people at this location for over twelve years.”
Like many others, because of Begin Anew: Williamson, Susan was able to regain hope. “Susan’s still going through treatments, and she feels confident God is in control.” Angela continued, “Going through cancer has been different for Susan this time around—her outlook is positive as she has a renewed view of our Lord.”
Undeniably, the desire to see poverty reduced is apparent throughout this organization. The staff, volunteers, and supporters all believe everyone deserves the chance to “Begin Anew.” For more information on how you can be a part of the ministry of CWJC/CMJC, visit wmu.com/jobcorps.
*Name has been changed for privacy of participant