Hope Inspired Ministries graduates first high school class

Published 4:56 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2023

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Hope Inspired Ministries (HIM) graduated its first class of high school seniors in Lowndes County on May 15 at a ceremony held at Hayneville Christian Methodist Church.

HIM Lowndes County site director Jessica Fails said the non-profit, faith-based organization focuses on helping people with employment.

“We are a job readiness program,” Fails said. “We work to remove whatever barriers our students have which could be not having transportation or child care. We provide all those services and training to help them get a job.”

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Three students from The Calhoun High School and four students from Central High School in Hayneville began the program in January. They were taught computer skills, financial literacy, workplace etiquette and wellness and personal growth skills.

The ministry was founded in January 2012 and launched its Lowndes County site in 2020.

Career coaches began working in schools in January 2023, equipping high school seniors with the same job skills and life skills training received by the ministry’s adult students.

“High school students took to the program very well,” said HIM High School Career Coach Jenny Reaves. “One thing that is enticing to them is they get college credits. We help them discover how to utilize those credits in what they are going to do after high school.”

The high school students learn soft skills, employment skills, financial literacy, and character building while also gaining documentation assistance, internship opportunities, life coaching, spiritual guidance, and a support system.

“Some say they are going to college or the military, but others are undecided,” said HIM High School Career Coach Alecia Lyles. “Even if they don’t know they want to go to college now, we are there to help them gain workforce skills. We want to nurture whatever path they want to choose.”

Lyles said as career coaches, she and Reaves helped students realize all the possibilities for their future.

“We wanted to make sure they know as much as possible about where they can go,” Lyles said. “It’s not just about college. I want them to know they have thousands of options out there.”

The program was funded by the award of an Alabama Department of Commerce’s Delta Regional Authority Grant which allowed the ministry to expand existing services into the high schools early in 2023. 

Each graduate received the Alabama Career Essentials certificate which gives them three free credit hours that can be applied towards degree coursework at any two year college in the state.

The certification also helps students who might want to go directly into the workforce.

“Once employers see that certificate, they know that the student has been trained through a job readiness program and that student is ready to work and remain employed on the job,” Fails said. “We partner with the high schools, and we get to meet all of the graduating seniors to determine who is eligible to participate.”

“I’m excited that they followed through with the process, and they all have very bright futures ahead of them,” said Fails. “They know that they have a HIM family to add to their circle and can always reach out to help them on their journey of life.”