Not far from Wheaton, in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Woodlawn, the unemployment rate is more than four times the national average. Rebekah King Kikama ’12 is working to fix that through her work as executive director of OneonOne.
The vision at OneonOne (formerly Hope Works) is simple. They’re “working on work.” But the impact is immeasurable—in just five years, Kikama has led the nonprofit organization from helping 75 people find, secure, and maintain jobs to 700 annually.
The organization trains participants in a range of soft skills, such as problem-solving, creativity, and interviewing, while also helping community members create a resume or apply for available jobs. Kikama tells the story of one single mother of five who proudly showed off her new business cards with the title, “Manager.”
“Vocation doesn’t have to mean that you love everything at work,” says Kikama, who became the Executive Director of OneonOne at only 24 years old. “Part of our dignity as being made in God’s image is that we are called to work. And so what does it mean for people who are unable to work for a variety of reasons, or who society has cut off ? And how do we have a role in restoring and affirming that calling?”
Kikama credits her experience with the Honduras Project as being exceptionally informative in laying the groundwork for her calling. Being the director of the Honduras Project allowed her to learn about how “various public and private entities collaborate to make change.”
Kikama remains active in the Wheaton community, serving on the advisory board for Wheaton in Chicago and engaging dozens of students as ambassadors and volunteers.