By Kelly Legg

There is a very well-kept secret at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Valrico. The great number of people who are unemployed, between jobs, recently graduated, or looking for a career change may want to consider its free program called Career Transition Ministry. This structured, Christian, faith-based program has been offering job seekers workshops for five years and is open to all denominations.

The ministry was the calling of John and Sheila Nemia of Valrico. Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., the Nemia’s were transferred here in 2004 through John’s job and became active members at St. Stephen Catholic Church.

“When John was president of St. Stephen Men’s Club, gift cards were collected at Christmas-time and John personally delivered them to the men who had lost their jobs that year. John came home devastated at the hurt and loneliness these men were feeling,” said Sheila. “The next Sunday’s gospel was about Jesus feeding the 5,000 with the loaves and fishes that’s when John knew that the Lord was calling him to help these men who were out of work.”

John gathered every one he knew from St. Stephen who worked in human resources and even some who were out of work to brainstorm about starting a job-seekers ministry.

“It took six months of meetings in our home to get started,” said Sheila. “That was five years ago and we have more than 450 people attend our Career Transition Ministry program, some seeking jobs and others seeking better paying positions.”

Most attendees need help with resume preparation and interviewing advice. John and Sheila challenge the attendees to believe in themselves and to become aware of their skills and the value they bring to the table.

“We now have a team of professionals who help with resume tweaking, and we can call upon several speakers to help with facilitation,” said Sheila.

When attendees come to the free workshops, which can average between 8 to 10 people each week, they gain access to job leads from various sources.

Sessions are held at St. Stephen Catholic School located at 10424 Saint Stephen Cir. in Riverview on Boyette Rd. every Monday evening from 7-9 p.m. The Career Transition Ministry program, also known as CTM offers job seekers resume advice, interviewing tips, LinkedIn usage and more. For more information, contact John or Sheila Nemia at 672-2552 or careertransitionministry@ststpehen or visit ministries/ctm.

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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.