'Purposeful Leadership' program equips members with career, life skills

Rebuilding from scratch is a difficult task for anyone.

It's what a group of 50 people is now doing. Many of them are Hurricane Maria survivors, also hit hard by the pandemic.  

They took part in a program called "Purposeful Leadership."

It was organized by Father Jose Rodriguez of the Jesus de Nazaret Episcopal Church, in coordination with CareerSource of Central Florida and Manpower Group. It provided participants with English classes, computer lessons, and resume-building skills. 

"Our job as community leaders, as a church is to make it so our families can access resources in a manner that lifts them up and also helps them contribute to society," said Father Jose Rodriguez.

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Inside the food pantry kitchen, we met Arlene Sevilla. The hurricane washed away her business but not her resolve. In Spanish, she says nothing is impossible when you have the drive to succeed.

Thanks to the Purposeful Leadership program, she is now broadcasting a show on Facebook. It provides recipes for turning items from a food pantry into a delicious meal with a Latino twist.  

One of the instructors involved, Eric LeBron not only helps her with the show but also provides English classes for the group.

"We have nurses, teachers, psychologists and a lot of them just need words. They need to learn the vocabulary on how to communicate in the workplace," said LeBron.

On September 15, the group had a graduation ceremony. It is the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, and the start of a new chapter for the group. 

"Central Florida is a beacon of hope and it does have economic engines that can help families thrive and succeed," said Father Rodriguez.

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