GRANITEVILLE — Christine Walling, 42, of Aiken, wasn't sure where she was going in life. She had gotten a divorce and had been involved in a traffic accident.
“I was in this cycle that I didn't know how to get a car without having an income, and I didn't know how to get an income without having a car,” Walling said.
Megiddo Dream Station helped Walling find her way. On Tuesday night, she participated in Megiddo's graduation ceremony at Graniteville First Baptist Church on Canal Street.
No longer jobless, Walling is working as an office assistant for AllStar Tents and Events.
“I love it,” she said. “I can use the skills that I already had from doing secretarial work in the medical field, plus it gives me opportunities to learn all kinds of new stuff. I also have nights and weekends off, so I have time to give back to the community by being a volunteer.”
Walling and 47 other people qualified to receive certificates by completing Megiddo's eight-week main program, Work for Success, and various specialty classes. Not all were able to attend, but enough showed up to nearly fill two rows of pews in First Baptist Church's sanctuary.
Megiddo teaches unemployed adults how to become better job candidates, and since it was founded in 2012, the organization has helped put more than 100 people to work.
“You are an inspiration to me,” U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., told the Megiddo graduates.
“As I serve in Congress, I see things that are very distressing,” he continued. “I see and you see people around the world losing their lives gruesomely – in Iraq tonight, in Israel tonight, in the Ukraine tonight. But there is hope, and the hope is that we have good people like you who are turning their lives around.”
Will Williams, president and CEO of the Economic Development Partnership, also spoke during the ceremony, and he discussed the importance of a good attitude.
“I'm in charge of recruiting new industry into Aiken County and getting the industry we have here to expand,” he said. “I get the opportunity to go out and visit with a lot of employers in the area and talk to them. About 10 percent of them tell me they need well-skilled workers to do whatever job they have at their facility. The other 90 percent that I talk to say that the most important thing that you can do is to have a good attitude.”
Williams also advised his audience to “never, never stop learning” and to read something daily “whether it be your Bible, a newspaper, a magazine or the latest best-seller.”
Reading, he added, “will develop your mind, and knowledge is power.”
Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard.
STAFF PHOTO BY DEDE BILES Adriene Bryant, left, Rockale Williams and Sherry Shirah were among the people recognized during Megiddo Dream Stationís graduation ceremony at Graniteville First Baptist Church on Tuesday.×
STAFF PHOTO BY DEDE BILES U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., left, shakes the hand of Sherry Shirah during Megiddo Dream Stationís graduation ceremony at Graniteville First Baptist Church on Tuesday. Looking on is Megiddoís executive director, Kay Benitez, center.×
STAFF PHOTO BY DEDE BILES Reggie Young claps during Megiddo Dream Stationís graduation ceremony on Tuesday at Graniteville First Baptist Church.×