In 2004, President Joe Andaya of the Dagupan Philippines Stake noticed a serious problem within his stake.
"We keep losing leaders and potential leaders who either migrate to Manila or abroad to find gainful employment," he said.
And the problem was commonplace in stakes across the Philippines.
Millions of Filipinos had left their home country to find work abroad.
In addition to Church-established Employment Resource Centers, stakes and districts established employment committees as a way to solve the problem of families being separated from their loved ones in order to earn a wage away from home.
"The stake employment committee made a wonderful difference in the lives of our members," said President Manuel Garcia, regional welfare specialist in Cabanatuan City. "Today, we see more and more individual members gain confidence to explore opportunities in different fields of employment and business, as well as furthering their education. They have started to have hope, a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel."
President Victornio Babida of the Paranaque Philippines Stake set up a pilot stake employment committee in the country, which became the model that other stakes followed.
Grace Vicencio of the Paranaque Philippines Stake and the first stake employment committee director in the country said at first she was nervous when she looked at the task before her. "But as soon as the purpose became clear to me, I caught the vision. I have been inspired to continue working our committee to deliver what the people are clamoring for — to become self-reliant."
By 2007, 65 of the 99 stakes and districts in Luzon island alone had organized stake employment committees.
The programs were an immediate success.
In 2005, Church Employment Resources Services in the Philippines registered combined average employment, education and self-employment placements of more than 3,000 individuals. By the end of 2008, the combined placements totaled 14,671 members.
"The program and organization as a whole are beautiful," said President Babida. — Welfare Services