God answered Neale and Bonnie Davis’ prayers when they heard about the opportunity to be Jobs for Life mentors from a Raleigh Rescue Mission newsletter.
“We had been praying for ways to be more connected to people who don’t look like us or live like us,” said Bonnie. “It became something that the Lord put on our hearts.”
The mentor position was new at the time, and the Davis’ even assisted Chris Hill in writing the job description. The role includes partnering with one or two New Life Plan clients who are currently enrolled in Jobs for Life – a faith-based program that prepares clients to enter the workforce. The mentor assists the client with practical tasks like writing resumes, mock interviews, and answering questions. The Davis’ also see it as a chance to step into the client’s personal life and have the opportunity to share the gospel.
The couple’s professional backgrounds, talents, and passions make them a perfect fit for the role. Neale works part-time at Cru, The Summit Church as a pastor, and as a management and executive-level coach. Bonnie works full-time at Cru, has a background in HR, and also does some professional coaching. Lastly, they both have a heart and gift for encouraging others.
“We love to develop people and see them take the next step,” said Neale. “When you attach that with our love for the gospel and its life-changing message, it’s the perfect marriage. And we get to do this together.”
Neale and Bonnie serve their clients through their actions. They’ve helped them apply for jobs, driven them to interviews, and helped them open checking accounts. They make sure to verbally encourage the clients, as well – calling out their strengths, telling them they’re proud of them, and leveling the playing field by being vulnerable and sharing their own struggles.
“The support the clients get from all the people they’re connected to through Raleigh Rescue Mission is foundational,” said Bonnie. “Some come from out of state, so we’re the only people they know until they get a job.”
The encouragement goes both ways in the relationship, and the couple finds joy in their mentorship roles.
“I love seeing the determination to make changes,” said Neale. “Some clients come from very challenging backgrounds, and I’ve seen some very focused, determined, and grateful people who want to make a life change. That’s super encouraging to hear. They’re very open to things you have to say, including talking about your faith. We pray together often. It’s encouraging to encourage.”
Bonnie was excited to see one of her former clients speak at a recent Jobs for Life graduation. The client found a job that lined up with her past vocational experience, saved money, bought a car through the Mission, and is now in an apartment. She encouraged the graduates to not give up. “I could see her being a coach one day,” said Bonnie.
Mentorship can be a challenge when a client takes steps backward or reconnects with people in their lives who aren’t helpful for them. And there’s plenty that the Davis’ have learned along the way – how to really listen and ask good questions, how to set boundaries, and how to share their own story and ask the client for theirs. They say the role has developed empathy for those who haven’t been brought up with as many privileges, and they’re often confronted with their own selfishness.
“It’s OK to feel uncomfortable,” said Neale. “It’s not our job to fix this person. It’s our job to put our arm around them.”
As we celebrate National Volunteer Week in April, Raleigh Rescue Mission says a big thank you to Neale and Bonnie Davis, as well as all of our Jobs for Life mentors who use their skills and talents to encourage New Life Plan clients throughout their employment journey.