Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

February 15, 2014

Club catering to jobless eager to kick members out

Greensburg Daily News

---- — LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — It’s one of the few organizations with the sole purpose of kicking members out of the club.

The Business and Professional Exchange meets weekly in the Lafayette area, offering unemployed workers and those looking for a career change job hunting resources and fellowship.

The meetings take place from 8 to 9:30 a.m. each Monday. Most take place at Faith Community Center, 5527 Mercy Way, although this week the group will meet at 820 Park East Blvd.

During the hour-long meetings, members network, share job leads and discuss job hunting tips.

Each lost member marks one more worker returned to the workforce.

“We lost two members last week,” the group’s president, Chris Waymire, told the 15 people gathered last week. “We’d love to lose you, too.”

Members receive weekly newsletters and occasional email blasts from Waymire, whom recruiters often approach about filling vacancies, the Journal & Courier reported ( ).

The exchange was first formed in 2003. Lafayette’s is one of six Indiana chapters. Waymire also is president of the Kokomo chapter. A seventh chapter soon will open in Evansville.

Although the group is mainly for white-collar workers, Waymire said all are invited.

“We don’t have a collar checker at the door,” Waymire said. “Everybody’s welcome.”

James Decker has been attending on and off for about a year. Decker works in the IT field and is between projects.

“It’s a good way to interact with other people so you know you’re not going through this alone,” Decker said. “We’re willing to help each other.”

Kelly Willis, who is looking to change careers, said the group keeps members, many of whom haven’t been in the job market for several years, up to date on how technology has transformed the job search process.

“Sometimes it’s like a support group,” Willis said. “One time I was having a bad day and it was like a therapy session for me.”

The exchange costs $20 to join, although potential members are invited to attend several meetings as guests for free. The group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and receives funding from members’ donations.

“There is never any pressure to join,” Waymire said. “We do prefer they join because it’s our only method of sustainability.”

And sometimes there are doughnuts. If a member lands a job, he or she is expected to bring doughnuts for the group to share at the next meeting.

“If people walk in and there are doughnuts here, that’s our signal,” Waymire said.