Navigating Tough Times – Moving On

Information on free resources for GED prep, college applications, and job searching. Last in a four-part series.

As stated in the three previous blogs in this series, many of our neighbors in Cherokee County are struggling in this challenging economy for a variety of reasons, ranging from unemployment to disability. In an effort to provide a hand up to those in need, resources for food, clothing and medical treatment have been presented over the past three weeks.  This final blog in the series will focus on ways to move on from the crisis – education and/or employment.  

Most businesses require at least a high school diploma or GED (General Educational Development) certificate for employment. If you have dropped out of high school and wish to take GED preparation courses and then the tests, here are some places to contact.  In all cases, the preparation is free; however, there is a standard fee to actually take the tests to qualify for a GED certificate.  This list is not intended to be inclusive of all resources in Cherokee County, but it is a

Chattahoochee Technical College: GED preparatory classes are offered at the Cherokee Learning Center.  Contact number:  770-720-1685   Website: 

Cherokee Youth Works:  Preparatory classes are also offered at this
location.  Contact number:  770-345-5483   Website:  www.cherokeefocus.org

Hickory Flat United Methodist Church: HFUMC offers GED prep classes in conjunction with their community care ministries.  Contact number:  770-345-5969   Website: www.hickoryflat.org/communitycare

Once the minimum education requirements are complete, then there is the decision to be made with regard to higher education and/or job placement.  If higher education is desired, then a great first step is to complete a Federal
Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA)

I am 57 years old, legally and totally disabled for the past 14 years, and I completed my FAFSA a month ago to determine what I might receive toward college. I’m eligible for the Pell Grant (Federally funded, does not need to be repaid) and for Stafford Student Loans (do have to be repaid).  Because I am a
Georgia resident and have completed 38 hours in coursework so far with a 3.66
GPA, I am also Hope Scholarship eligible. The FAFSA application is available at http://federalstudentaid.ed.gov/ and there are deadlines to complete the application for each school year.  If you don’t have computer access, every
college has a Financial Aid office where there are capable employees to walk
you through the process. 

After I completed my FAFSA, I started making my applications to college.  Application fees ranged from $25 to $40 per school (I chose technical colleges or state universities).  In doing my applications, I was directed to use GACollege411, a website that comprehensively walks students through every phase of the process.  By filling out information about myself (everything from age to interests to affiliations with churches, clubs, etc.) I was able to use their scholarship finder to locate five single-spaced typed pages of various “small” scholarships ($100-$3000) to apply for in addition to the Federal grant/loan program and HOPE. Their website is https://secure.gacollege411.org/.

I have to admit that I was inspired to look into this by a friend’s mother who just
graduated from Kennesaw State University at the tender age of 73.  If she can do it, then even with a significant disability, I believe I can too! Being disabled, I doubt my education will open financial opportunities for me in a career sense, but going to school and learning is certainly a great use of my time and energy and who knows how I might be blessed in the process?

With regard to job placement, the suggestions I’d like to offer have more to do with free resources than anything else.  I’ve been out of the job market for a good while, and while I can’t offer any specific suggestions, I do know that these resources are available without charge for those who are seeking.

Goodwill Industries Career Centers:  No matter what your challenges
are in finding work, Goodwill Career Centers are there to help every step of
the way.  From free access to business machines (phone, fax, computers) to training classes on basic software, to job networking programs, help creating resumes and more, it’s all free and they are truly interested in helping people find employment.  Goodwill Industries is also almost always looking for reliable workers.  The closest Career Center is located at the Woodstock store.  Contact number:  770-874-0262

Faith-Based Jobs ProgramsWe are blessed to have a number of churches in
Cherokee County and close to Cherokee which offer job assistance through
networking, resume review, placement data banks, etc.  This list is not comprehensive, but it does include some of the larger, more successful programs with which I am familiar.  I’m sure readers could comment and include other resources. 

First Baptist Church of Woodstock Job Ministry: Contact number:  770-926-4428   Website: http://jobs.fbcw.org/

Hickory Flat United Methodist Church Job Ministry: Contact number:  770-345-5969, x210  Website:  http://www.hickoryflat.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=198770

Roswell United Methodist Church Job Networking: Roswell UMC’s program has been so effective, it has been featured on “ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer.”  Contact number:  770-993-6218   Website: 

For information on secular (non-faith affiliated) networking programs, try calling the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce for up-to-date information.  Contact information:  Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce - 770-345-0400

Last but not least, I want to tell you my favorite resource for job searching – The Sequoyah Regional Library System.  Their periodical section includes all local and metro newspapers and those publications have “help wanted” ads.  With a library card, you can have access to a computer and even if you don’t have a library card, you can have access with proper ID, although your time is limited. 
We are so blessed to live in a county with a wonderful library system,
staffed by professionals who truly desire to be helpful, and with beautiful
buildings that offer a comfortable environment conducive to getting things
accomplished.  While you’re there, you can check out books that give helpful hints on maintaining employment in a challenging economy, help you update skills, and so on.  The educational opportunities within the library walls are only limited by your time constraints.  Books on audio are available to those for whom reading is a chore; visual materials (movies) are available and so much more.  Branches are located in Canton, Hickory Flat, and Woodstock.  Library cards are free to residents with proper identification.  If you don’t know how to find something, if
you need assistance, just ask a Library Associate.  They are only too happy to help you. Contact numbers:  Canton - 770-479-3090  Hickory Flat - 770-345-7565  Woodstock:  770-926-5859

This blog series has been fun to research and write, and my fondest hope is that
someone’s life has been enriched as a result of the information contained
herein.  Thank you for reading, and thank you to those of you who have commented and shared information.  With a little help from our friends and
neighbors, even those of us who are most challenged may find a way to navigate these tough times. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Susan Thompson June 07, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Thanks Mary for all of the research you put in to create these informational blogs! They have surely helped countless people!!
Sharon June 07, 2012 at 02:51 PM
What a wealth of informaton you have here! I am e-mailing out to several friends who are struggling with the "what to do now"? You have done all the leg work and I applaud you!!!! Thank you!


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