A Story by Renee Baker, Edge Publications, April 1, 2009.
At his Hartwick College dormitory in New York, Bill Fenson was known as Father of the Floor. Fellow students turned to him when they needed trustworthy advice. Over 20 years later, Fenson is still watching over others to make sure they are alright.
In this time of economic woe, we could all use someone like “Father” Fenson to take care of us. While not an ordained minister, Fenson does feel a calling in a ministry of his own, a Career Assistance Ministry.
Fenson began his work at Cathedral of Hope in Dallas in April 2008, but the seeds were planted while in college, when he knew helping others with their career development was to be his role. He had started out as a salesman, but so many came to him for advice on their livelihoods, that it became “self evident that this is what I was meant to do.”
The Career Assistance Ministry program at Cathedral of Hope, the largest GLBT church in the United States, offers free career counseling every Monday afternoon. The program is a big hit, especially as unemployment rates have now climbed to 6.5 percent in Texas, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.
Fenson says this economy is different than any other bad time in the last 20 years. “It is impacting all economic levels,” he says. “Those that have been protected in the Ivory Towers of corporate America are learning that tighter purse strings are affecting them.”
Chuck Reed, an attendee to the Career Assistance Ministry, gives testimonial to the program. He is thankful for all the “invaluable assistance” that Fenson has given him. He says to Fenson, “I can’t say enough on how grateful I am for what you have helped with.” Reed has been able to find a new position through networking and at a higher rate of pay than he expected.
Attendees come to Fenson’s group in various emotional states including depression, anger and resentment. Fenson says the key to finding a new job is to break through the negativity and adopt a positive attitude. He chuckles a bit, “Just because you are down and out, doesn’t mean you should be looking for worms.”
Fenson moved to Texas from New York and finds it remarkable how helpful people are here. “Texas is a friendly and helpful place to be. Don’t try and be a Lone Ranger. There are so many that want to help you.”
Perhaps the best part of the program is that there is no charge to attendees. “This is definitely God’s plan for me to provide this service. That is why I am willing to do it for free too.” Fenson considers this service the best thing he can give to the church, because career assistance is truly what he does best.
Fenson will be a guest speaker at the GLBT Job Expo on April 1 at Southern Methodist University. The fair is sponsored by the Resource Center of Dallas. Fenson will be speaking on the importance of networking.
Visit www.billfenson.com for more information about the Career Assistance Ministry and Bill Fenson.
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