Friday, May 13 was “graduation day” for lucky students in the inaugural Sojourner House MOMS Professional Development class. After taking part in an 11-session course during early 2022, the students were recognized for their hard work.
According to volunteer instructor Susan Orr, the course covered the following topics:
- résumé, cover letter and thank-you note writing
- interviewing skills
- budgeting and financial literacy
- vision boards
During the sessions, students were also visited by guest speakers Patty Jasko (Susan’s sister) and Treasure House executive director Sally Power. Power also donated outfits for the class participants to wear to a networking/etiquette reception that took place on April 22. During reception the students practiced “speed networking” with six professionals, including several Sojourner administrators.
During the May 13 graduation ceremony, participants were presented with course completion certificates.
Rev. Liddy Barlow, the first woman to be installed as Executive Minister of Christian Associates of Southwestern PA (CASP), addressed the students: “As moms, you have struggled and sacrificed and survived. Your own journey to parenting has not been easy. You have faced challenges that could have broken you completely. But you persevered. You chose to persevere every day.”
Rev. Barlow commended the women’s commitment and goal setting: “So, I want to congratulate you today, as parents, as people of courage, as the strong mother hens that our community needs. You are signs of hope and healing. You show us what God looks like. And you will do great things.”
Orr, who previously taught professional development classes at other organizations, created the curriculum to meet a need for clients. She’ll begin hosting the workshop again in August.
“I’ve supported Sojourner House and Sojourner House MOMS for nearly 20 years, as either staff or volunteer,” Orr said. “Teaching this class has been a true highlight for me. I enjoyed working directly with the women and I was inspired by their strength, perseverance, and commitment.”
Orr’s sister Patty has been in recovery for about 15 years and regularly speaks to Sojourner House and MOMS residents.
Orr describes Patty as her inspiration: “My sister didn’t see her son for about 20 years due to her addiction. Had she had a place like Sojourner House, life could have been quite different for my nephew and her.”