Establishing relationships of trust and understanding are the essence of Samaritan Ministry’s work. At this time of physical distancing, staff and volunteers are called upon to be creative in maintaining connection with our participants as well as with each other.
For Our Participants
Creativity is demonstrated through our STRIVE job readiness program, which has been transformed from a three-week in-person experience into a virtual training that focuses on preparing job seekers for the critical aspects of securing and maintaining a job. It deals with job readiness from both an emotional and practical aspect:
- How to present oneself for an interview: how to shake hands; how to introduce oneself; the importance of a smile and sitting up straight;
- How to overcome self-doubt; how to deal with frustration or misunderstandings on the job;
- What it means to be a count-on-able employee: arriving on time; communicating if you are going to be late or out sick;
- How to fill out job applications that may require information not readily available;
- Getting a checking account, or;
- Identifying one’s skills and the type of work one is drawn to
The demand is clearly there for this type of job preparedness — the number of applicants for our STRIVE training program has increased substantially in the past six weeks. As we look to the post-pandemic future, one of our challenges will be to determine how best to guide our participants to secure employment when the job landscape will be very different.
Recent STRIVE graduate Antoinette Green serves patrons at a nearby hotel
For Our Volunteers
ED David Wolf often quotes a profound statement made by an Aboriginal woman, “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together.”
During April, an opportunity for “liberation” came through the showing of the documentary “13th” as part of SMGW’s commitment to the ongoing training of its volunteers.
This first virtual training included a robust discussion following the film, which explores the 13th Amendment (which abolished slavery) and reveals how structural racism began with the importing of slaves and continues today as evidenced in the war on drugs, our prison system, and today’s economic forces. More than a dozen volunteers joined a Zoom call to view the film and then engaged with how racism impacts our participants.
As one volunteer reflected, “I think it was important to explore our feelings about the events and opinions presented in the documentary, because of their relevance to the lives of individuals who participate in SMGW programs. Knowing some of the history underlying situations certain communities experience is important in understanding the difficulties our participants sometimes face in accomplishing what they want to do.” Another said, “Negativity is a constant for African Americans individually and as a community. There is a lack of positive experiences. It is important to see others succeed.”
SMGW will offer additional virtual trainings in May, as well as additional learning opportunities and a reading list for those who participated in the “13th” training.
Poster for the movie “13th”, which was screened in volunteer training