Everyone knows the story, the State of Michigan in 2001 went into a heavy recession and unemployment became the norm. Every skill set from engineers to customer service was affected. Good people were losing their jobs and were not able to find work. If you were lucky, your company offered out placement services to help you in your job transition. If you were like the other 90% of the people laid off, you were left on your own to find work. Does this story sound familiar?
Back in 2002, Matthew Karrandja, Vice President of Sales for LHP Engineering Solutions, was asked by his pastor at St. Therese of Lisieux to help the parishioners that losing their jobs. The church was not able help as much as they wanted to because they did not have the expertise in job placements to help. The pastor knew that Matt was a recruiter in his professional life and asked him to give a presentation about resumes and interviews. “I was honored that Father Tom asked me to help out and to give back to my church”, said Matthew on the first time the thought of workshops for the unemployed brought up. “Honestly, I was expecting maybe 5 to 10 people to show up for our first event, I was shocked when we had about 400 people show up for our first event. After our first event I realized that there was a demand to help those that needed it most.”
Matthew Karrandja developed the Career Ministries shortly after the first event and has ran over a 1000 meetings since then. At the height of the unemployment and recession in 2008/09, Matthew was running 10 classes a week with about 50 volunteers helping out. “It was absolutely crazy then the recession in 08 hit, we were running classes weekly throughout Detroit and had about 5000 students attending our classes.”
It has slowed down since 2008 since unemployment has gone down in Michigan but there is still a need for those that lose their jobs. Karrandja said that they will continue until there is no longer a need for those in transition, “I made a commitment to those in need that we will continue to host classes and workshop for those that are unemployed or underemployed. I always have said, that if no one shows to our events then I will know we have served our mission, however we still have 20-100 people that show up.”
The Career Ministries of Michigan currently runs all of their free workshops out of various churches in the Detroit community. “The churches have been a fantastic partner for us, we literally do not have a budget or money to rent rooms, the churches allow us to use their facilities for free,” Karrandja tells us. Each year the Career Ministries host an annual Christmas Party for the Unemployed and Karrandja and his team give back to the community. “I am very blessed to have fantastic sponsors that donate gift cards to the Career Ministries. We are able to give those gift cards to the those that need it and hopefully make their Christmas a little easier.”
The Career Ministries is a fantastic group of volunteers that give their time to help those in need. The workshops that happen monthly include topics such as; networking, resumes, interviewing, Linked In, how to overcome depression in your job loss and financial tips to save money. Every class is free and there is no selling at the events.
“It has been an honor to help those in need for the last 15 years. We have helped thousands of people over the years by offering free services that they were not going to be able to get anywhere else. We have done workshops in front of 1500 people and also in front of 4 people in a basement of a small church upnorth. As long as we can help one person it is worth it”, says Karrandja.