South Texas Children’s Home helping women find redemption

CORPUS CHRISTI – Nicolle Polanco struggled with alcoholism, which then affected every facet of her life. After being unable to take care of her children, she admitted herself into Grace House in Corpus Christi for rehabilitation.

South Texas Children's Home, a Texas Baptists partner ministry, serves in many more capacities than providing a home for children through the Jobs for Life program. It seeks to give women the chance to break out of destructive addictions or patterns, and prepare them for a life in the workforce.

Jobs for Life director Jimmy Rodriguez is confident in the power of Christ and the effect the Gospel can have on individuals. With this mindset, Rodriguez is eager to equip women who have fallen into difficult circumstances change their habits.

"We're in the business of relationships," Rodriguez said. Over the 12 weeks, women build their relationships with God, self and others in order to be career-ready.

Every day starts with a devotional from a local pastor to keep the focus of the day on Christ. Additionally, Tuesdays have "power lunches" where successful women share their stories of God's goodness in their lives to encourage the women in the program.

"In January in 2014, after trying to get sober on my own, I finally just surrendered. I found myself on the floor of a hotel room knowing that this is not what God made me for," Polanco said.

Grace House, a partner ministry of South Texas Children's Home, and Jobs for Life work in conjunction to build both healing for individuals and community for recovering women that is centered around the Gospel.

When Polanco completed the rehabilitation program, she enrolled with Jobs For Life in order to build skills for a future career. The curriculum is more than job skills, but ensures the women in the program are fully equipped to be successful.

"It wasn't just about how to get a job," Polanco said. "It was about identifying roadblocks that held you back from getting those jobs."

The women in the program were given access to job training, interview skills and resume building, among many other things. As for soul care, participants have access to counseling services, conflict resolution, biblical basis for work and many other classes designed to prepare women on all fronts for the a healthy life.

"We accept you as you are, but we promise not to leave you there," Rodriguez said of the Jobs for Life philosophy.

While at Jobs for Life, Polanco was able to prepare weekly meals and hone her culinary skills. Cooking is something she is passionate about and wants to pursue. Currently, Polanco said that she is cooking for her childrens' preschool.

"We hired her to cater two meals during her semester. We were able to bless her while she blessed us," Rodriguez said. "She's a fabulous cook and organizer, but more importantly, it was a chance for her to give her testimony about what God was doing in her life during the preparation of a meal."

"My dream is to open a café where I can hire people coming out of prison as an entry level job," Polanco said. "God is opening more doors for that to happen."

She also noted that being able to serve three days per week at Jobs for Life is rewarding because she is able to give back, and she was awarded the opportunity to be the keynote speaker at the graduation in May. She seeks to encourage women, telling them simply because they have a bad past does not mean they are doomed for menial jobs in the future.

"Jobs for Life wants to help women get above and out of the lifestyles that they're in. They are about advancing the kingdom of God for his purposes," Polanco said.

Linley McCord, a student at Texas A&M University, is currently serving as a joint Communications Intern for both the Baptist Standard and the Texas Baptists.

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