Women's Employment Network

The Women's Employment Network (WEN) was founded in 1986 to assist women in raising their self-esteem and achieving economic independence through sustained employment. Our vision is to advance positive change in the lives of women, their families, and the community, one woman at a time.
Jul 28, 2016

WEN's "Secret Sauce"

Lynnette Williams, Director of Program Services
Lynnette Williams, Director of Program Services

Lynnette Williams, Director of Program Services, has become the "secret sauce" of Women's Employment Network (WEN), and if you ask any client, graduate, volunteer, Board or staff member, they will tell you why. Celebrating her 25th year at WEN, you can imagine the impact Lynnette has had on our program deliverables, her co-workers, our board of directors, our executive directors and of course the many WEN clients’ lives she has affected in her years of service. Lynnette has seen WEN through several locations, staff changes, and of course, impacted the lives of thousands of clients whom she has helped gain confidence and the tools they need to stand up on their own two feet.  

"Lynnette has the most genuine way of addressing extremely difficult and painful circumstances of our clients lives,” said Sherry Turner, WEN President. "She was once where they are and found the tools and resources needed to start over."

In 1990, at a difficult time in her life, Lynnette was introduced to WEN as a client. After completing the WEN program and becoming attached to her mentor Evonne McCay, she secured employment with The Full Employment Council. Lynnette decided to then volunteer at WEN and deliver her personal testimony to clients. For the next year, she served our clients by paying it forward in a volunteer capacity. She was approached by WEN staff when the position of Job Readiness Instructor became available. What you really need to know is that at Lynnette's own client graduation from WEN, she actually told the instructor that she could do her job. And, so...the rest is history. We are so fortunate that Lynnette chose the Women's Employment Network.

Lynnette is now, and has been for many years, WEN’s "secret sauce". Referred to affectionately and with professionalism by our clients as....'Miss Lynnette'. Alumni of our WEN services at times will track her down for counsel or perhaps run her over with a grocery cart just to say Hi!

Lynnette has inspired thousands of women and conducted 209 graduation classes. She is inspirational and compassionate, she will challenge you to be your best self, and she never lets you say I can’t. She is a mentor, a leader and a friend. 

Lynnette in the classroom
Lynnette in the classroom

Links:

May 4, 2016

From Cope to Hope: How One Woman Rewrote Her Story

In 1986, two Kansas City philanthropists and visionaries, Beth K. Smith and Marjorie Powell Allen, had a profound idea of how to “help women help themselves”. Together, they worked to form Women’s Employment Network (WEN). 

WEN was founded to help women who are trapped in the cycle of poverty effectively transition into jobs that will allow them to achieve economic stability. With a focus on self-esteem and personal responsibility, WEN serves women from all walks of life and all ages who are: unemployed, underemployed, affected by job layoffs and outsourcing, those who are new to or returning to the job market, and displaced homemakers. After 30 years, WEN is proud to continue serving women in Kansas City. Here is an example of one woman who benefited from WEN's programs. Her story is only one example of the impact WEN has on the community. 

At WEN's recent 30th Anniversary luncheon, our client keynote speaker, Amanda, shared her story about overcoming homelessness and other barriers to employment. She discussed how she found the strength to move forward and ultimately finding her way to success. Excerpts from her story are outlined below.  

"During a particularly bad day of Army training, the kind of day you wonder why you enlisted to begin with, a crusty old Sergeant offered some words of advice. He said, “Soldier, you can be better or you can be bitter. Either way it starts by embracing your challenges.” And she did just that.

"I began to understand and embrace the idea that we have to go through the tragedy, the abuse, and the tough situations to find our stronger selves. I would like to say that I immediately began to embrace the challenges in my life but with all great lessons learned, time must pass." 

"As time passed, the obstacles in my life became overwhelming, to the point that radical change was my only option. I finally began the difficult journey of transitioning out of an abusive marriage finding myself divorced, homeless, unemployed and suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which now requires me to use a service dog. Despite my years of experience as a freelance journalist, professional photographer, published author, veteran status and recently completing my Bachelor's degree in English, no one seemed to want to hire me. I applied for over 100 positions across the country and even in Europe, only to receive the same answer-if any answer- you’re experience is compelling but we’ve hired someone else. I felt myself losing hope, until the lesson finally stuck, I could get better or I could get bitter. I embraced my challenges."

"With a little discipline, the security of full-time employment, and a lot of luck I will write that book or better still those books. I have gone from homeless to hired, all because I learned how to be a good employee from WEN and because I embraced my challenges, allowing them to make me better, not bitter."

Today, WEN is pleased to share that Amanda found her dream job as a professional editor, working on behalf of the military.

Feb 3, 2016

Financial Coaching Pays Off for WEN Clients

For women and families who have struggled to make ends meet, a secure job is the first step toward financial stability. But, it’s only the first step. As a Financial Opportunity Center (FOC), WEN now provides long-term, one-on-one financial coaching to help take a client out of a downward spiral. During the 2014-2015 fiscal year:

 

 

In the 60-minute Banking Basics workshop, clients find out how to choose a bank (or credit union), learn about banking tools in your management, and how to balance a checkbook.

The Credit workshop teaches ou how to: select a credit card, understand FICO scoring models, read acredit report and make a positive impact on credit.

Thirteen workshops have already been conducted since September 2015. Outcomes from these workshops so far include:

 

Three satisfaction questions were also asked at the conclusion of each workshop. The participants found the instructor's knowledge and presentation style to be fantastic, and thought that the handouts were extremely helpful.

 

In addition to satisfaction questions, workshop specific skill questions were also asked. Participants were asked to rate their confidence in each skill after the workshop, with the following results:

For more information on the upcoming workshops and to register for the free 60-minute sessions, please click here.

 
   

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