RIVERVIEW Four years ago, John Nemia, as president of St. Stephen Catholic Church Men's Club, distributed giftcards to men out of work.
"I was devastated by the pain I experienced at those homes," he said. "Those men were in such despair and were suffering terribly from their job loss."
Nemia felt sure God was calling him to do something.
He wondered how to improve people's process of looking for work, but his more than 40-year banking career with Citigroup had not given him experience to do that.
He spoke with his wife, Sheila, human resources professionals he knew and the men who were out of work to determine how they could best be helped.
After six months of meetings in the Nemias' home, they developed a plan for a program. In July 2009, they started the St. Stephen Catholic Church Career Transition Ministry.
The Career Transition Ministry assists the unemployed and underemployed, whether or not they are affiliated with the church.
About a dozen job seekers attended a recent meeting. Each announced why they were there: They were new to the United States or to the community, had been laid off, wanted a new career, or were returning to the workforce after caring for children or elderly parents.
Professionals in a variety of fields offer help with résumé and interview preparation, networking, self-awareness, the financial aspects of unemployment and negotiation of salaries and benefits.
"When someone is unemployed, their self-image is shot, so we spend weeks building it back up," said John Nemia. "If you believe in you, people who interview you feel better about you, too."
Anyone seeking a job or a better job is welcome to join the group, which meets from 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays at St. Stephen Catholic School, 10424 Saint Stephen Circle, Riverview. The school, not on church grounds, is located on Boyette Road, west of Bell Shoals Road.