Christian HELP Offers Job Search Assistance and Much More
When Vickie Martin entered Christian HELP some 20 years ago, she was looking for a place to assist with food and Christmas gifts for her children, as well as help with bill payments. The organization helped her get back on her feet. Over time, she became a volunteer and served as a board member, secretary and chair. Today, as the executive director for Christian HELP, Martin looks to continue to deliver the quality assistance that was given to her.
Dick and Madge Wilson founded Christian HELP in 1992. The Casselberry-based nonprofit’s first client was having trouble making rent, so the organization helped out. As the years progressed, the organization’s services expanded. Today, Christian HELP provides job search assistance in multiple ways, has an extensive food pantry and offers a yearly Christmas program that provides toys for families in need.
When looking back on her time in the program, Martin credits Christian HELP’s ability to assist her in the process of getting back on her feet, but not enable her to the point where she became dependent and returned back to the program. It is a process the organization still abides by today, partnering with people willing to work hard to find a way forward so they can move past their circumstances and live the independent lives they desire. Martin’s desire to find a permanent solution motivated her while she was receiving services.
“I think that’s what really did it for me, realizing there’s another way,” Martin said. “You don’t have to permanently live in crisis mode, but you’ve got to have a part in the solution. You have to work hard and make better decisions consistently, even if they take time to bring about change.”
One of Christian HELP’s features in assisting clients goes beyond the material goods, food items and career aid the organization offers. Instead, the organization takes pride in the time spent with clients as they look to get back on their feet.
There are many different people who come looking for assistance, ranging from single mothers to senior adults who are out of money. With each individual possessing different skillsets and needs, Christian HELP looks to find permanent solutions, sitting down with the client and developing a plan of action. Once the plan is put into motion, Christian HELP is there, regardless of timetable. The organization’s lasting dedication has
allowed it to display a commitment to those looking for assistance in a way that leaves a lasting impact on those in the program.
“Even though it’s great to hear they have a job, the thing we’re most moved by is when people say we’re like family to them, we care about them and we saw them as individuals,” Martin said. “When they say they don’t know where else they would’ve gone, we literally saved their lives, and gave them hope when they were at the end of their rope, this says we’re getting it done in a way that works. At the end of the day, people don’t remember many facts, they remember more how they felt. So for us, caring about the experience of the person we’re serving is paramount.”
An example of Christian HELP’s dedication to its clients comes from a young woman who entered the facility a while back. While she was relatively debt-free and living at home with her parents, she longed to be independent, so she bought a car and found a place to live. However, the costs of the car and living on her own caused her expenses to exceed her income. She came to Christian HELP seeking food assistance, relegating herself to the fact she would always come there when she came up short on money. However, Martin worked with the woman to find better financial solutions, and eventually she worked her way up at her job and earned a promotion.
“We can often inject truth and love into a stranger’s life,” Martin said, “because we’re a safe place, we’re objective and our ultimate desire is to help people move forward with no judgment.”
In addition to staying true to the organization’s mission of assisting people with finding jobs, Martin said, Christian HELP wants to expand its reach to as many populations facing unemployment and under-employment as possible. She is working with the Orange County jail system to assist people who are about to be released with jobs and resources for their future. However, to be successful in expanding its reach, the nonprofit would also like to increase its staff and facilities.
With the same relationship-driven approach that came to Martin’s aid during her time in the program, Christian HELP continues to be more than an assistance program. It is an organization driven to make a permanent, positive change in people’s lives.