By Contributor Andy Lee
She was a woman struggling to survive in a marriage rocked by mental illness.
Without relatives nearby, Mary Ellen Bowman did her best to raise her boys alone. Their family’s only source of income (a disability check) paid the rent but left no money for food or bills.
Bowman used to be a desperate woman living in poverty – much like the
women she now mentors.
While sitting on a park bench one day, Bowman met Frances Anderson. Anderson was the pioneer who brought Christian Women’s Job Corps to hurting women in Wilmington. During their conversation, she saw something very special in Mary Ellen, the gift of hardship partnered with faith. So she encouraged Bowman to attend a CWJC convention.
This was the spark that lit the flame in Mary Ellen Bowman. She soon became the executive director of Wilmington’s CWJC ministry. Almost 12 years later, she is still CWJC’s fearless leader.
What is Christian Women’s Job Corps?
CWJC is a ministry of women helping women. It is a non-profit organization that exists to equip women in poverty with necessary life skills to move them from dependency to self-sufficiency. Life skills CWJC mentors teach include: money management, goal setting, and parenting skills. The participants also receive instruction in job readiness such as computer skills, career development and resume writing. Women in the program also attend a weekly Bible study.
The training is vital, but more importantly, each woman is given a mentor. Each mentor is trained by CWJC to walk alongside, encourage, and help discover each protegee’s strengths.
Along with job and life-skill training, CWJC tries to help with basic needs. They welcome donations of cars, gas cards, bus passes, NIV Bibles and toiletry articles such as shampoo, soap and lotion.
One of Bowman’s biggest dreams is to provide housing for homeless women and those living in dilapidated, unsafe homes. Bowman dreams of a “Village of Hope,” a place where the women can both attend CWJC classes and tuck their children into bed at night.
CWJC holds two large fundraisers annually. Their “Parade of Tables” is scheduled for April 28 (stay tuned to Wilmington FAVs for more information), and the Battle of the Bands will be held Sept. 14.
Most importantly, mentors and computer teachers are needed. CWJC can only accept participants based on the number of mentors available. Currently, there are seven. Yet there are many more women on the waiting list who need help. The next mentor training will be 10 a.m. Saturday (March 10) at Winter Park Baptist Church, 4700 Wrightsville Ave.