It's midmorning at Goodwill's new Job Link Center on Johns Island; four to five people are in class to help them become or remain eligible to receive food stamps as they job search.
Behind a glass partition, an instructor stands as each person works on a computer. There are 10 computers.
The class assures that participants keep their food stamp allowances as they struggle to get back on their feet, find a job or a better one.
Along a wall in the main office area are six more computers. They are available for use by anyone in the community who is job hunting.
If you are computer savvy, that's great. If not, no problem; Jessica Sanchez will teach you how to set up email; how to set up your resume.
Any questions? She is there to help. Sanchez is the intake specialist who manages the 1,000-square-foot center that opened recently.
It is located at the Goodwill store at 1758 Main Road near Brownswood Road. The center's hours are 10 a.m.-4 pm Monday-Friday and is open to everyone in the community.
All services are free and aimed at getting people back to work. If you are job hunting, check it out.
Thomas Jones, who lives on the island, is counting on the center to help get him back to work. He was in the morning class. It was his first one, but he said, “I think it's going to help me a lot.”
Unemployed and searching for work, the 40-year-old used to work as a cook at IHOP, but “it did not work out.”
The Rock Hill native now is hoping to find a job in the manufacturing field. There is one problem, though; his past mistakes are working against him: “I have a slight record.”
In 1997, Jones said he got into some trouble — drug related — but “I am not that same person anymore. People do change.”
He said young people need to know that “the things you do when you are young, you don't realize, they will be there over you as an adult. Your past will haunt you.”
He is optimistic. “I still can cook. If someone needs a good cook, here I am.”
The center features two classrooms and 16 computers that can be used free of charge for job searches and resume building. It offers career coaching, job training and other employment services.
A larger, more established center is located at the Rivers Avenue store in North Charleston.
A grand opening for the island store will be held at 10 a.m. June 8, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and local representatives from the Johns Island community.
The state's jobless rate went down from 8.9 percent in March to 8.8 percent in April, and the Charleston area's numbers were even better at 7 percent. However, for the nearly 200,000 people seeking work, a job center is a great idea and sure to be popular.
And it's located at the Goodwill store. Stop in — you just might find a leather belt for $2.99 and a recommendation for a good book.
For more information about Goodwill's programs and services, go to www.palmettogoodwill.org.