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Megiddo Dream Station prepares students for workforce

Posted: August 16, 2017 - 12:09am
Participants in Megiddo Dream Station’s job and personal skill training program prepare for graduation. Executive director Kay Benitez said the program strives to make an immediate and eternal impact. AMANDA KING/STAFF

Students in Richmond and Columbia counties began their school year Monday, but a group of nontraditional students finished their school year Tuesday evening at Midland Valley Church of the Nazarene.

For the past five years, Megiddo Dream Station has helped unemployed men and women gain the skills they need to obtain jobs. Executive Director Kay Benitez is still shocked at the results of Megiddo.

"We had no idea what kind of impact we would be allowed to make. We had no idea that five years later we would be able to put almost 400 people to work with over 60 different employers," she said at Tuesday night's graduation.

Ninety-seven percent of graduates gain employment but put in a lot of work before obtaining their goal. Students attend the eight-week course four times per week. Classes focus on communication skills, how to prepare a resume and cover letter, goal setting and conflict management.

Megiddo takes students on trips to local businesses for tours and are visited by local successful business owners who have also gone through hard times with jobs and life. Some speakers share their personal stories of being laid off or not completing high school only to go on to own or manage large companies.

Students also learn to set up a budget to help them manage their income after they get a job. With many of the students relying on government assistance for years, most have not had to budget their personal finances.

"It's a lot more than job skills training. It's life skills, too," graduate Charles Snavely said.

They participate in Bible study to teach them leadership and servanthood in the workplace and to illustrate how people with troubled pasts can move on to accomplish great things.

"We learn about how to put God in the middle of everything, and we learn a little about ourselves," Sharon Rowell said.
Just showing up for class won't guarantee graduation. The dream station operates on a point system and a certain amount of points are needed before the participant can graduate. Points are accrued if students are late, absent or fail to turn in an assignment. If too many points are accumulated, they cannot graduate.

Megiddo opened its first location in Graniteville in 2012 and now has eight in Georgia and South Carolina. Leaders are raising money for an industrial training center on Gregg Highway in Graniteville.

The organization has 100 acres of land and will use 10 of those for the center. The new building will provide space to teach students the skills they need for construction, sewing, painting and other skills not normally taught in local technical schools.

"We have people who have never held a hammer or painted," Benitez said. "These are certain skills needed before they can obtain a job in many of these fields."

 

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