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Written by Lindsey Lobur   
Friday, 20 December 2013 10:22

Rock Island, IL – John Jefferson is going to college! When John first arrived as a homeless veteran at Christian Care’s Rescue Mission, he had no idea what direction his life would take. He certainly never saw the possibility of attending college in his future.

Thirty years ago, John served our country as a Marine—specifically, as a Military Policeman at a Nuclear Weapons Facility. After his discharge, he worked for several employers before losing his job. Like so many others, both military and civilian, he encountered difficulty getting hired and realized that, given his age and the state of the economy, he was unlikely to be able to get another job on his own. A friend mentioned that Veteran’s Assistance programs in the Quad Cities had offered him much-needed help, so John decided to see for himself.

John began working with Andrea St. Clair, Christian Care’s Veterans Services Coordinator. St Clair meets weekly with each veteran in the program to help them identify goals and objectives and formulate a plan to help make those goals a reality. She tracks their progress and growth while they reside at Christian Care and provides weekly workshops designed to provide much-needed information and build skill sets.

It was at one of these workshops that John was motivated to create his personal career plan. After attending First Midwest Bank’s workshop on “Money Matters,” John set up a checking account and started building his financial stability. When a Black Hawk College recruiter spoke to a group of residents at Christian Care, John was inspired. What he once thought of as “just a dream” suddenly seemed like a very real possibility. John knew with certainty that he wanted to become a nurse. He enrolled in Black Hawk College’s Practical Nursing Program and is now a full time student. “I have used these workshops to get me to where I am today,” said Jefferson with confidence.

In order to enroll in college, John needed to have proper identification, proof of a local bank account, transcripts and his birth certificate. “Andrea has helped me get over walls,” said Jefferson. “She has made sure that everything I needed was in place.” St. Clair also helps Jefferson maintain a monthly calendar showing all of his appointments to ensure that he adheres to his plan. Jefferson states that having his appointments laid out so that he can see them makes life feel more manageable: “She has helped me prioritize a really confusing part of my life!”

Jefferson attributes his success so far to Christian Care’s strict policies. He adds that, “Christian Care is providing many useful services. If everyone took advantage of these services, they would be a step ahead themselves.” Jefferson has used his time at Christian Care to save his money and advance himself. “I realize how many bridges I have crossed since October. None of this would have been possible without Christian Care’s support!”

By providing residents with much-needed tools, resources, guidance and support Christian Care is able to help residents transform their lives. But the organization needs community support to continue offering their services. “Just as our change programs are helping more people than ever before, donations are down this year. We need financial help from the community to continue serving the veterans, the homeless, victims of domestic violence, men and women transitioning from prison, and those with mental illness,” said Lindsey Lobur, Christian Care’s Marketing and Development Manager. “It is exciting to see what happens when individuals are empowered to reach their full potential. I would hate to see that stop.”

Christian Care is a 501(c)3 organization that operates two facilities in Rock Island—a domestic violence shelter for abused women and children and a rescue mission for homeless men. They provide safe shelter, nutritious meals, clothing, professional counseling, referrals and guidance to those in need. Christian Care’s services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the goal of nurturing the bodies, minds, hearts and souls of the men, women and children who come seeking a new way of life. Help Christian Care help others; donate now. Call Lindsey at 309-786-5734 for more information, or to set up an interview.

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