The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that one of the keys to a person's self-respect is having meaningful

employment, receiving fair compensation for hours worked, having insurance to

protect against the unexpected, and receiving time for vacation and sick leave to

rejuvenate and to heal.

Recognizing the value of meaningful

employment, church leaders established LDS

Employment Resource Services to provide opportunities to those who are

unemployed or who desire to learn job skills. The centers are available to Mormons and people of other faiths.

Currently there more than 100 LDS employment

resource centers in the United States and more than 150 located throughout

Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Europe and Latin America. The centers offer free

services, including job postings, job search instruction, resume classes,

one-on-one assistance and career services for professionals such as practice

video interviews. 

The success of the program is easy to

measure.  In 2006, the church placed more than 88,000 people in jobs in the United

States and Canada and more than 137,000 people internationally.

One of those was René, a church member in Chile. He had been out of work for more than a year when he learned about the LDS Employment Resource Center in Santiago.

"I felt skeptical," René said. "I felt so ashamed that when I finally made the call to the employment resource

center, I disguised my name and my voice."

René knew he needed help, but even after

making the decision to go to the resource center he found himself circling the

building over and over again before finally getting up enough courage to go in

and attend classes. "Everyone there treated me with such love and such warmth,"

René said.

At a Monday meeting in a Salt Lake City

employment resource center recently, job seekers networked with each other,

listened to a motivational speaker, received Internet training and met with

potential employers.

Ballard Veater, manager of the Salt Lake

City LDS Employment Resource Services office, said the average length of time it

takes for professionals to get a job in Utah is eight to 10 months. For those

who take the Career Workshop and actively participate in the weekly

networking meetings, it usually takes two to three months to find a job.

"If they do all the components of the program and if they are actually

able to apply what we're talking about, they will be able to reduce their job

search time," Veater said.

Key to the success of the employment

centers is the staff of trained volunteers who are supervised by full-time staff. In 2007

alone these volunteers provided 140,000 days of labor.

Jackie, a single mother

from Orlando, Fla., learned firsthand how valuable the volunteers are at LDS

Employment Resource Services. She recalls how she went to an employment center

but put her job search on hold after breaking her leg. A church

missionary working at the center called Jackie at home, and when she learned

what had happened, offered to take her to a doctor's appointment.

While waiting for the doctor to see

Jackie, the missionary noticed an announcement that the doctor's office needed an

office assistant. "What can I lose?" said Jackie.

The following Monday, cast and all, she began her new job.

See the entire series "Church welfare program helps people help themselves through tough economic times" at