Goodwill's "Beyond Jobs" helps women beyond the job search

Imagine having a life coach who helps you find a job, balance your budget, find child care, even drive you to work if you need it.

That's what Goodwill and Walmart are doing right now to help 300 local women find jobs. It's a program called Beyond Jobs.

Michelle Washington recently moved to Richmond from New Jersey with her husband and three children. A certified nursing assistant, she'd been looking for a new job for a few months. Then Beyond Jobs sharpened her skills to help her find one.

"Resume building, setting us up for job fairs and everything like that, if I needed any clothes," Michelle listed the skills she was helped with.

Beyond Jobs is a comprehensive program. It offers career planning, classes on budgeting, resources on nutritional education, even help finding child care and transportation.

Said Michelle, "It will help me budget better, and get financial counseling through a credit bureau. They also help you with that."

Goodwill is offering Beyond Jobs in 45 cities through a $7.7 million grant from the Walmart Foundation.

Explained Bernadine Doggett, Manager of Goodwill's Community Employment Center in Richmond, "We help them from beginning to end with their training. Whether it's helping them with their resumes, their presentation skills, marketing themselves to employers through career fairs and job networking events."

The idea is to help women, who are often parents or single parents, overcome any challenge to working and, in turn, help their families.

Said Doggett, "We hear a lot of I get a job ... and I can't keep it because I don't have child care, I don't have transportation, and I can't manage or think at work because my kids aren't taken care of."

Over 18 months, Richmond area Goodwill's hope to help 300 women. More than 20 are currently enrolled, and after the first month, some have already landed jobs, including Michelle. "I just got a new job! So I'm full-time. I will be working for Westport Rehabilitation and I'm excited."

Added Doggett, "I'm seeing women become more motivated, their self confidence increases."

Goodwill's employment specialists follow up with participants after they start working to help them reach their career goals. Michelle hopes to eventual go back to school.

"I feel great, inspired, lucky actually," she told us.

Any woman can participate in Beyond Jobs. There are no income qualifications.