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Nonprofit helps parents, children cope with job loss

Posted October 24, 2013

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— At Baker Roofing in Raleigh, the process of putting a roof over the head of a client requires more than just construction skills.

There's a whole team, including Jamila Smith in sales.

“Every day is fun,” she said. “I don't hate to come to work, which is awesome.”

Finding work was once a job itself. To land her position at Baker Roofing, Smith she turned to StepUp Ministry, a place full of success stories.

The nonprofit organization takes a different approach to help the unemployed, teaching life skills and financial literary. But there's a catch.

“If you've got children 16 and under, you're required to bring your children. (They) go through the exact same curriculum that parents do,” said Linda Nunnellee, the organization’s executive director.

Smith came with her 11-year-old son, Desmond. The two made a family budget, and when Smith wanted to buy tickets to Cirque du Soleil, it was her son who stopped her.

“He looks at me, and he said, ‘Mom, that's not in our budget,’ and that was the end of that,” Smith said. “No Cirque du Soliel.”

Program teaches whole family how to budget Program teaches whole family how to budget

Once courses are completed, the StepUp team connects the graduates with employers.

“We noticed that some of the candidates coming out of StepUp were well qualified, and really, they just needed a chance,” said John Matthews, executive vice president at Baker Roofing.

That’s why he decided to give Smith a chance. He said he’s glad he did.

“Jamila is great. Jamila is full of energy. She is creative,” Matthews said.

Smith credits StepUp and Matthews for helping her gain a new set of skills and steady employment.

“All you need is one yes to keep moving forward with your life,” she said. “I have been getting more yesses lately.”


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  • sunshine1040 Oct 24, 2013

    People drawing unemployment is down and fewer people are looking for work but that does more people are working at full time jobs and have gotten off federal or state aid It just means they have shifted the income form one govt agency to another.

  • mep Oct 24, 2013

    But everything is getting better... unemployment is down... why should folks even need this sort of thing?