CWJC transforming lives

Edna Vandiver, left, new executive director of Kerrville’s Christian Women’s Job Corps, and her administrative assistant Courtney Ayala serve dessert at the end of a luncheon recently at the job corps dining room.

The Kerrville Christian Women’s Job Corps recently graduated the first class under the leadership of new executive director Edna Vandiver. Vandiver succeeded Ann Buck in September as the new ED.

The class of 10 students will now be entering the local workforce or continuing their education at the trade school or college level.

The local Christian Women’s Job Corps program began in 2000, so this year is the 22nd year of operation. This was their 44th graduating class because the program has both a fall and spring class each year.  A total of 473 women have graduated from the program over its history.

Vandiver worked on staff at CWJC for nine years as the assistant director and accountant, and before that was a mentor for the program. She has worked with the program in some capacity since its inception two decades ago.

A Kerrville resident for the past 39 years, Vandiver is a native of Arlington, a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington with a business administration and accounting degree.

“My dad loved baseball, so my first job was as an usher at Arlington Stadium, home of Texas Rangers baseball,” Vandiver said.

Her former in-laws lived in Kerrville so Vandiver and her family re-located to the Hill Country so her children could grow up in a small town. She initially was the bookkeeper for her ex-husband’s construction business and home- schooled her two sons through high school.

“I could do the bookkeeping on the side while at home with my boys,” Vandiver said.

Vandiver was selected as the new ED in September just before the beginning of the new semester.

“It was harder in the beginning because I did not have an assistant director. Thankfully I had Courtney Ayala, a graduate of the CWJC program, as an administrative assistant,” Vandiver said.

Vandiver said she has had a lot of help from the CWJC board members and they actually came in to help during the transition period.

“They are a true working board,” she said.

The board later hired Jessie B. Bolton as a communications and marketing intern for this fall semester. She is a graduate of Pepperdine University with a degree in international relations. Bolton had just returned from a time in Israel and will be leaving this week for a job in the Texas Capitol in Austin.

“She helped update the website and created templates for our newsletters, things that we really needed. She also put together videos for us to use in presentations,” Vandiver said.

Vandiver said she had learned a great deal from Ann Buck during her time as the assistant director, but the biggest surprise she discovered as the ED was the amount of time she would need to devote to counseling both the current students and alumni of the program.

“I don’t plan to make any major changes to the CWJC program. We have a solid foundation already and I plan to keep things basically the same. I am looking at the ‘women in work’ curriculum as a positive addition to our program,” she said.

Citing the book of Jeremiah, Chapter 2-Verse 11 in the Bible as the basis of CWJC ministry, Vandiver said that teaching women that God has already had a plan for them and the plan hasn’t changed, no matter what has happened to them to bring them to CWJC.

“We help them break free from the chains that have held them back from being who they were created to be. That puts them on the path of being able to start dreaming again, to find a job they were created to do and make a positive impact on our community.”

Vandiver said sometimes they come into the program with one goal and after the Bible studies that changes.

“Sometimes they want to do something that relates back to their former life and then, after the CWJC program, they realize they want to do something totally different. The program, from the beginning, has been to transform their lives, which will then transform their childrens’ lives and transform the community,” Vandiver added.

Students in the program come from a variety of sources. Some of the women are on probation or court-ordered, some are going through a divorce and some need to upgrade their employment skills. Many have children and are looking for a more positive future for the entire family.

“There’s always a common thread. Drug abuse, sexual abuse or divorce, or sometimes becoming widowed. The program knits them together with a common thread.

“I feel very blessed to be here and in this position and to be able to carry on what previous directors have left behind. They left a good foundation for the future of this program.”

Previous CWJC directors were Patty Crick (founder), Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie and Ann Buck.

The CWJC program is funded by grants and donations and offers limited financial aid to attendees during the time they are enrolled in the program.

For more information about CWJC go to www.cwjckerrcounty.org or contact Vandiver or Ayala at (830) 895-3660. Applications for the Spring 2023 class are available now at the office at 1140 Broadway or on the website. Volunteer mentors are also needed for the program.

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