By Joe Crews
For Hometown News
A two-month-old company in DeLeon Springs wants to help men and women better themselves, and find gainful employment.
At The Well of Living Water is a community resource and crafting center based on the premise that all people should be accepted and helped. In a diverse community like DeLeon Springs, that can include people whose differences are educational, economic or heritage-based, said owner Jan Karnes.
Ms. Karnes describes her business as "50 percent helping poor people who have troubles and 50 percent trying to pay my bills."
Robyn Shannon of DeLeon Springs is one of the people Ms. Karnes has helped.
Ms. Shannon and her fiancÚ moved down from Michigan earlier this year and were struggling to find work. She helped set up the Living Waters store, and was allowed to use the store's computer to do some of her job searching.
"For people like me who don't have cars, it's nice to have that available," Ms. Shannon said.
When she didn't have enough time on her prepaid cell phone, potential employers could contact Ms. Karnes, who would pass along the messages, Ms. Shannon said.
She ended up with two part-time jobs: as a cashier at a Dollar General store in DeLand (which takes applications only online) and as a dishwasher at Emma's Restaurant in DeLeon Springs.
"It took me eight months to get work," she said. "Now that I'm working, I'm saving $100 a week toward buying a neighbor's truck."
In a news release announcing her grand opening, Ms. Karnes said, "The primary objective of this small business is based on the premise that Jesus offers us a changed life.
She offers crafting classes, such as jewelry making and glass painting, to help cover her expenses. A boutique and a small store that sell handmade items, including quilts and dolls in Victorian costumes - and possibly some of the crafts produced in the classes - also aims to help pay the bills. Many of the items for sale are made by handicapped people who cannot make it to craft fairs, Ms. Karnes said.
The other half of the business is more complex, and not only because it doesn't generate revenue. It provides a growing list of services for men and women who want to improve their circumstances.
While the company doesn't have anyone who provides counseling, for instance, she can help steer individuals to places where they can get it.
"We try to connect with social services agencies. Those agencies do their own screenings, and if anyone is turned away, we try to find another way" of addressing the problem, she said in a telephone interview.
"We walk people through the system," she said. "We try to get to the bottom of their problem, and try to mainstream them into jobs or refer them to agencies for help."
The company also has helped people get signed up for food stamps and worked with a doctor who helped some individuals find health insurance or low-cost medical care.
The clientele originally consisted of older women, Ms. Karnes said, but now it consists of people - mostly women - of all ages.
"We try to help everyone," she said. "We don't turn anyone away."
She's helped by her husband, Jack Nunn, who "does the heavy work."
At the Well of Living Water opened July 7 at 5086 N. U.S. 17, in the Ace Hardware Plaza in DeLeon Springs. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and from noon to 7 p.m. on Friday. For more information, call 386-985-4705.