Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence

by Women's Employment Network
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Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Help 80 Women Find Jobs & Financial Independence
Lynnette (WEN staff) & Victoria on gradation day
Lynnette (WEN staff) & Victoria on gradation day

The mission of Women's Employment Network (WEN) is to assist women in raising their self-esteem and achieving economic independence through sustained employment. We were founded in 1986 with a vision of advancing the lives of women, their families, and the Greater Kansas City community, one woman at a time.

In this case, that one woman is Victoria. In 2016-2017, the Women's Employment Network (WEN) served 662 clients, like Victoria, seeking to better their lives - and we couldn't have done it without your support.

2017 WEN Graduate, Victoria, shares her journey:

 

"My Journey through WEN - Reflections on my WEN Moments"

Yes, I chose to provide this subtitle, it is intentional. Even as vivid my attempt to describe this important phase in my life, I will never be able to adequately capture my time with WEN.

I came to WEN vaguely aware of what it was all about, sure of one thing that I needed change and that's what the information on the website promised. I am overwhelmed about what I was taught by the staff and volunteers of WEN, and I am even more surprised about what I learned about myself.

I am glad that I never heard about other institutions that offer similar training to WEN; I would have been crushed I had patronized them before coming to WEN.

WEN is my icebreaker to the American workforce. When my daughter gave me the contact details, I was attracted by the word "women," it was the deciding factor and stroke a cord of curiosity within me, and I glad I came.

My expectations were meeting way beyond my imagination; the career dressing, the workplace etiquette and yes the four temperance workshops together form a solid pillar of my transition to a bigger and better and more confident me. My financial confidence has been strengthened by the lessons learned from "bossing" my money around.

I am so grateful for the exposure, the people I have met, and would like to this journey an important benchmark of my life. I will continue to scout for participants for subsequent wen classes; my motto is “no woman left behind.”

By the way, I am currently working on my letter of intent for the admission procedure for enrollment to the doctoral program at the Grand Canyon University for the doctorate degree in Education in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Christian Ministry. My support system for this important endeavor is WEN and my family. Thank you WEN, I am proud to be counted among your ranks.

 

Thanks to your support, Victoria and many other women are on their way to a brighter future!

If you would like to receive updates and newsletters from WEN, visit https://goo.gl/1xi95D to sign up.

Class #290
Class #290

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WEN Graduate, Laura
WEN Graduate, Laura

The mission of Women's Employment Network (WEN) is to assist women in raising their self-esteem and achieving economic independence through sustained employment. We were founded in 1986 with a vision of advancing the lives of women, their families, and the Greater Kansas City community, one woman at a time.

In this case, that one woman is Laura. In 2016-2017, the Women's Employment Network (WEN) served 662 clients, like Laura, seeking to better their lives - and we couldn't have done it without your support.

2017 WEN Graduate, Laura, shares her journey...

My journey with WEN began out of desperation. Events in my life had brought me to a place of having to find full-time employment with benefits. I began the “new age” process of filling out applications and sending my resume out through various job websites. After about a month, I realized I was in trouble. I lost count of how many resumes I had sent out, to no avail. I knew I was doing something wrong but didn’t know what, or, what to do about it. I went to Google and typed in “help, 56-year-old woman can’t find a job in Kansas City”. WEN's information came up along with many other services. I was instantly drawn to WEN because it is geared towards women.

I nervously and with reservation came to WEN to register. I remember trying so hard not to cry. Life had beaten me down; I was scared, anxious and depressed. The Client Services Manager, Erin Cole, guided me to her office. She proceeded to explain to me how WEN works. Erin was kind, gentle and understanding. I felt grateful that she listened.

My first day of WEN. I had NO idea what to expect or if this program was really for me. We met the staff, each telling us their role in this program. I remember all students were very quiet. I’m thinking they were all just as nervous and unsure of this endeavor as I was. There was an underlying comfort in this, I wasn’t alone.

On the second day, Lynnette, Director of Program Services, began helping us with our master applications, dress codes, resume formats, interview objectives, personality mosaic, etc. The list goes on and on. She has the gift of meeting you, reading a bit about you and knowing what you’re made up of in seconds. I learned early on, when Miss Lynnette speaks, listen because you WILL learn.

Students are settling in now, getting to know each other, opening up a bit but still a little reserved.

Brianna, Financial Coach and budding counselor. A huge light bulb turned on in my brain when she taught us about natural tendencies and traits in our everyday behavior. The Four Temperaments workshop taught us that the things we’ve been fighting against most of our lives were who we were born to be. AND, that it’s OK to be that person.  Amazing. Life changing.

Students are laughing now, sharing what’s inside, new friendships are beginning…a sisterhood.

Latoya, Financial Coach.  Let’s wrap it up!!  Going over the week's lessons, worries and open conversations are always something to look forward to.  I learned here I was not the only one experiencing anxiety.

Tonia, Employment Services Manager. Don’t let her quiet demeanor, forever smile and workplace etiquette fool you. She is always busy-- working behind the scenes, more than we all know, in an effort to get us on our way with the last steps. She is constantly working with our resumes, interviews, networks, staffing agencies, job search resources, cover letters and so much more.

A few weeks in, our class has bonded and do not want it to be over. We all accept each other for who we are. We also cannot forget Audrey Williams, Administrative and Program Assistant.  There every morning to greet us all with a beautiful smile and a few words of wisdom. Let’s not forget…coffee! (Thank you, Miss Audrey!)

An area yet not touched, the Volunteers. I am amazed at how many Kansas City area women devote their time to WEN. Too many to mention but so much learned. Thrift store shopping tips, interviewing techniques, business attire, mock interviews, helping with resumes, finances, stress management, self-care, vision boards and facing our fears. I may have missed a few things, but the bottom line is, we have gratitude and awe for you.

Staff and students, thank you for this time together, for the confidence you have brought back into my life, for EVERYTHING I have learned and giving me, for the first time in a very long time, hope.

Thanks to your support, Laura and many other women are on their way to a brighter future!

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Elena and her son, Max
Elena and her son, Max

The mission of Women's Employment Network (WEN) is to assist women in raising their self-esteem and achieving economic independence through sustained employment. We were founded in 1986 with a vision of advancing the lives of women, their families, and the Greater Kansas City community, one woman at a time. In this case, that one woman is Elena. In 2016-2017, the Women's Employment Network (WEN) served 662 clients, like Elena, seeking to better their lives.

A Big Desire for Change: Elena's Story

Elena, dressed in a fashionable bright pink blouse, thoughtfully sipped her coffee in a cafe on the plaza as she recalled her difficult, yet ultimately successful, career journey. The path, which took a significant leap from travel agent to Middle School Science teacher over the course of nine years, was anything but easy. "Now, I'm looking forward to when everything is going to be boring. I want to be bored!" Elena joked as she recalled the past few years.

Elena achieved a Master's of Education from her native country, Russia. Upon graduation, she was unable to find a job in the education field. That is how she ended up with a job as a travel agent. As her career in the travel business developed she visited several countries and concluded that she wanted to live in the U.S. She came here in 2003.

Elena continued working in the travel industry and moved to Liberty, Missouri when her husband was transferred. Elena hit a rough patch during the economic crisis and in February 2009 was laid off. At that point, she was in crisis, recently separated from her husband with a newborn, trying to manage on her own. She was living off of loans and social assistance. Elena was connected to Women's Employment Network through a referral from an emergency shelter for women and children.

Elena described the first week at WEN as a little bit awkward. Her class was such a mixture of different women with different backgrounds. One woman was trying to figure out how best to use her Master's degree and another woman was focused on finding a job while on probation. It was quite an experience for her. "It was like a mini America where you learn about different kinds of people and personalities and WEN taught us how to deal with it." She said.

At WEN Elena was able to move away from the travel and tourism field and work towards her goal of becoming an educator. She became employed as a substitute teacher as she began taking courses at University-Missouri Kansas City where she worked towards a teaching certification.

Elena's son, Max, is now eight years old and thriving. He will be going into third grade next school year and trying to learn Russian.

WEN left an excellent impression on Elena. She still looks through her old materials to make sure she is using the information she learned. To others that might be thinking about going to WEN Elena says, "I would recommend WEN if you have a big desire for change. You need to have an open mind."

Elena now holds her Master's in Arts of Teaching English as a Second Language and is teaching Science to English Language Learners at Northeast Middle School. "It feels really, really good to finally reach this goal. I am one of those people that can't settle down, so I will probably find another goal. Right now, I am looking forward to a break."

Elena graduating with her Master's of Education
Elena graduating with her Master's of Education

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State Street Onstage Accepting Award
State Street Onstage Accepting Award

For 31 years WEN's programs and services have met women when and where they need us the most to guide them towards stronger and more prosperous futures. Our dedicated staff works tirelessly to provide women with the support they need to make the choices that will change their lives for the better-- for themselves and their families. 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 those seeking to reenter the workforce.

Just a few weeks ago in early April, over 1,000 people from the Kansas City community came together to honor our work and the thousands of women who have come to WEN with the mission of creating a better life for themselves. Our clients stood up in front of the crowd and shared the challenges they have overcome to become stronger individuals, stronger mothers and stronger employees.  It was a powerful testimony not only to the strength and drive of the women we serve, but the community of supporters and organizations who help WEN persevere through the decades.

WEN benefits from tremendous local support. In the 2015-16 fiscal year volunteers provided 342 hours of service for WEN, helping with mock interviews, resume writing, and even leading workshops. Over 120 individual volunteers donated their time to our program. WEN also fills two part-time internships through Kansas University's School of Social Work. These two positions, our Personal Support Specialists, provide hands-on case management skills for our program staff. Without these relationships, WEN would not be able to provide the breadth and depth of our current services.

A prime example of the enduring support WEN has in our community is State Street Kansas City. State Street is a strong supporter of women in the workplace — focused on removing barriers to women’s advancement and committed to economic self-sufficiency in the communities in which they operate.  At this year's luncheon, we were honored to present them with the 2017 Beth K. Smith award due to their outstanding commitment to WEN’s mission and to recognize their involvement in the community. The Beth K. Smith Award, named after one of WEN's co-founders, was created several years ago to recognize those who put a significant amount of time, talent and treasure into WEN.

State Street Kansas City has invested in WEN in a variety of ways, including hiring WEN graduates, hosting training sessions, offering seminars for clients, holding networking events, and participating in resume review and mock interviewing. State Street Kansas City has also helped WEN develop and launch one of their most successful special event fundraising campaigns, which has raised nearly $105,000 since its inception.

In addition, WEN has received multiple grants through State Street's Strategic Grant making program which focuses on the sustainability of communities where State Street operates, primarily by investing in programs like WEN that promote employability and economic self-sufficiency. State Street is committed to workplace diversity and career advancement and they certainly are committed to supporting the Women's Employment Network.

The continued success of Women's Employment Network would not be possible without  a strong commitment to the mission on behalf of individuals and partner organizations like State Street and countless others,  each of you whom commit time, talent, and funding  to ensure WEN programming continues to change lives of women, their families-and our entire community.

The following is a client story highlighted at the luncheon:

Cindy's Story

I was out of the workforce for over 10 years. I had to find something soon, because my major source of income was ending and I needed to support my daughter. I was sending resume after resume, doing everything I could possibly think of to get a job and a decent source of income.

So one Monday, I decided I was going to find a placement agency. I would ask them for help with my resume and hope that they would be able to get my foot in the door somewhere.  I was on Craigslist, and saw ad for a career fair. I clicked on it and I was going down the list looking for everything that seems like an agency. I would go to their websites to see what kind of positions they had available and my contact was. Then close to the very bottom I saw Women's Employment Network. I had never heard of it before, as I had only been in KC for a year and I wanted to check it out. I went to their website, and immediately I was getting very excited with everything I read! I thought yes, this is the piece! I saw that you could go in on Mondays and Wednesdays to fill out the application., and it was Monday! Then, I saw that a class started that day. And tears welled up in my eyes and I thought shoot, I missed it! But, I decided to go in anyway. The whole time I was driving there, I kept thinking this is goofy. They're going to send me away because I already missed the first class. But they did not do that, they said I could start that week. I teared up again and I thought, this is exactly what I need.

Many of the classes at WEN are required, but a few are not. I signed up for them all! I wanted to learn and to be involved as much as I possibly could! They have really done a fantastic job of filling in all the little blanks to make sure that we had everything that we needed when we left the program. I wanted to get the most out of that experience! Crazy thing was, every day, I could tell that there were changes in me. I've always been confident but this allowed me to be vulnerable and continue to learn more about myself.

During week three, I was driving to WEN and I had an epiphany moment. This wave fell over me that everything was well on its way for me, it rushed over me and I started to tear up again, you can say I am kind of emotional. I had no idea the program would clear up so much for me or have the effect it has had on me. It's hard to put into words, but, I am no longer stuck! There were things I have avoided for a very long time. But now, I've taken the initiative and completed or at least started a process to complete.

I was able to find employment within a couple months. Is it my forever job, no. I would like to own my own business someday. But I am not looking for that yet.

My experience with WEN has made a huge impact in my life. I really don't know where I would be without it. I would probably still be looking for that puzzle piece. But now, I'm so ready to get out into this big world and make an impact all while singing praises for WEN.

State Street Employees and Volunteers
State Street Employees and Volunteers

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WEN Alumnae at Annual Holiday Party
WEN Alumnae at Annual Holiday Party

WEN serves a broad spectrum of women throughout the Kansas City metro area who are unemployed, under-employed, new to the workforce, or seeking to re-enter the workplace. Women must be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or equivalent. Approximately 75% of WEN clients have incomes below the federal poverty level. Likewise, women who come to WEN face a variety of challenges to securing employment, including homelessness or unstable housing, finding and affording childcare, insufficient or nonexistent medical or mental health care, limited means of transportation, substance abuse and recovery, and domestic violence.

As we move into 2017, the economic future of our clients remains more uncertain than ever. Fortunately, over the past several years, WEN has worked diligently to stregthen our Financial Coaching services. In November of 2013, WEN was designated as a Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Financial Opportunity Center (FOC). Using the nationally recognized and highly acclaimed Financial Opportunity Center model, WEN's program is one of only four in the metropolitan area. Our Financial Coaches work with clients to change their financial behavior in a way that encourages them to make a long-term commitment to increasing monthly net income, credit building, and acquisition of assets. By stabilizing family incomes, we are helping to stabilize our urban neighborhoods and ultimately affect and benefit the entire community.

Our financial coaches provide:

  • Individualized, one-on-one financial coaching, meeting the client where they are, and focused on short-term and long-term goals as it relates to personal finances. 
  • Support in developing a personal spending plan, including consistent monitoring, review, and accountability.

  • Access to credit building tools, credit counseling, and credit dispute resolution. 

2015-2016 Financial Coaching Outcomes:

In 2015, WEN began providing financial education workshops and one-on-one financial coaching to community members in conjunction with the Kansas City Public Library. Targeted community members included: women of diverse groups, immigrants, and adults ages 55 and over. WEN began delivering financial workshops through the Kansas City Public Library system. Curriculum for five separate financial workshops includes: Budgeting, Banking Basics, Credit, Payday Loans, and Identity Theft. Outcomes include:

  • 180 Financial coaching clients
  • 21 coaching clients each month
  • 44 participants decreased their outstanding collections
  • 53 participants improved credit score
Volunteers Help with Mock Interviews
Volunteers Help with Mock Interviews
WEN Graduation- December 2016
WEN Graduation- December 2016

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Organization Information

Women's Employment Network

Location: Kansas City, MO - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @OneKCforWomen
Project Leader:
Erin Cole
Kansas City, Missouri United States

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