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O'Hara church group provides support, resources for job seekers

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Volunteers from St. Joseph Parish on Dorseyville Road in O'Hara are studying from a guide to finding a new life, The Journey. From left is Deb Stapf, Jack Shaw and Deborah Mauser Jones.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Volunteers from St. Joseph Parish on Dorseyville Road in O'Hara are studying from a guide to finding a new life, The Journey. From left is Deb Stapf, Jack Shaw and Deborah Mauser Jones.

The Joseph's People employment assistance program began at St. Joseph Parish on May 1 — coincidentally, the Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker.

“We have so many blessings to be thankful for here,” said the Rev. Thom Miller, pastor of the Catholic church in O'Hara. “This is a program that provides us with an opportunity of reaching out and helping others get back on their feet.”

Program Director Jack Shaw said the faith-based group provides resources to help people pursue jobs. Meetings consist of guest speakers and topics such as networking, resumes and interviewing. One-on-one support is offered.

“People think you redo your resume and get a job right away but it doesn't work that way,” said Shaw, whose group meets at 7:30 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at the church on Dorseyville Road.

“It can be discouraging and we want people to know it's more of a journey.”

Founded in 1997, the volunteer-run Joseph's People Ltd. of Downingtown has about 14 chapters of Joseph's People in Pennsylvania. All are on the eastern side of the state, except for the O'Hara group.

Participants receive a workbook that helps with job-seeking skills along with banking, budgets and computers.

“We had a workshop on how to use LinkedIn, and showed people some of the Internet resources out there,” Shaw said.

Shaw was laid off from a job at Highmark Inc. in 2006. “The downsizing was unexpected and it was crushing,” he said.

“We identify with our work, we spend a lot of time there. It is said that 75 percent of a person's identity is tied to work. When you lose a job, that's a big hole to fill.”

One of the best tips for unemployed workers, he said, is to send resumes to 10 or 20 potential employers that are fine-tuned for particular jobs, instead of sending generic resumes to more companies.

Since it began 16 years ago, the nonprofit Joseph's People has helped more than 4,000 people recover from job losses.

Shaw said he has already seen success.

At least one of the 12 people who've attended sessions at St. Joseph Parish has landed a job, and two others have scheduled interviews.

“We want to help people keep a positive attitude,” Shaw said.

He said this program, offered free, helps people rediscover their gifts and self-worth.

“It is a social group above all and we are here to support people,” Shaw said. “What I try to tell people is this is a process. It's not 1-2-3.”

The next meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. July 24. For information, call 412-963-8885.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at

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