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(Enlarge) (Left) Marie Miles, Fort Meade's Army Volunteer Corps coordinator, and Vikki Torrence, Employment Readiness Program manager, represented Fort Meade at the White House on Sept. 20. The two staffers at Army Community Service attended the White House Forum on Job Clubs and Career Ministries, which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. (Photo courtesy of Marie Miles)

Two employees from Army Community Service attended the White House Forum on Job Clubs and Career Ministries on Sept. 20.

Vikki Torrence, Employment Readiness Program manager, and Marie Miles, Fort Meade's Army Volunteer Corps coordinator, represented the installation at the one-day forum.

The event, held at the White House, was sponsored by the White House's Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the U.S. Department of Labor.

The theme was "On The Front Lines of Getting Americans Back To Work." U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis was the guest speaker.

More than 100 people, including job club and career ministry leaders; religious, community and nonprofit leaders; and workforce officials attended the forum. The participants work in communities across the country to help the unemployed find viable jobs.

Torrence was invited to attend because she is the lead for the Fort Meade Military & Spouse Employment Support Group.

The job club, which started in November 2011, acknowledges the unique employment needs of military spouses, service members and DoD civilians.

Ben Seigel, deputy director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, attended the job club's inaugural event and has been supportive of its efforts, said Torrence.

The Department of Labor defines a job club as a support group of unemployed people who meet regularly at a church, public library or community center to provide networking opportunities and employment resources.

Last year, CFNP began encouraging faith- and community-based organizations to host job clubs as one more method to help job-seekers improve their skills and find employment.

Torrence invited Miles to attend the forum because they work together to help members of the Fort Meade community improve their job skills and find jobs and/or volunteer opportunities that can lead to employment.

The forum included seminars on how job clubs, career ministries and local workforce agencies across the country are serving the unemployed. The event also focused on innovative ways to help specialized groups, such as senior citizens and young adults, into the job market.

"It was good to know that we got it right," Miles said.

Fort Meade provides professional classes and training for all members of the community, particularly youth, said Miles.

During the Youth Summer Volunteer Leadership Challenge last summer, teens learned how to create a professional portfolio and manage their finances.

Torrence said she is glad that Fort Meade provides job support for military spouses who can often be overlooked by traditional employment services.

"Very few people think of military spouses, unless we think about it," she said.

Torrence said the forum encouraged her to "continue my partnership building and expanding to the faith-based community, to churches that have job clubs in our area and volunteers who can assist us."

In the future, Torrence said, she hopes volunteers from other job clubs can help organize a panel on mock interviews to help the unemployed develop their interview skills.

"When it comes to job clubs, the most successful are those that are a part of the community," Torrence said. "We would like the community at Fort Meade to be active members in the process."

For more information about the Employment Readiness Program, call 301-677-5590.

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