The Women's Employment Network serves a diverse group of women. As the women arrive for the first day of the Employment Preparation and Career Transition Training Program, they often compare their backgrounds with other women in the class. Often preoccupied by their differences, they point out what they perceive to be their own personal challenges. Some think that they are too young to find a good job and others wonder if employers will really consider them for jobs as the approach retirement age. They wonder if their lack of a degree, legal difficulties or even their appearance is holding them back from finding work. But by the end of five weeks, these women are no longer so concerned with their differences, but view each other as friends in the job-search journey.
These are the women WEN serves:
Single Mothers "I began my professional life as a teen mother. Although I was determined that my being a teen mother would not get in the way of building a stable professional life for myself, I did not realize how many obstacles would arise. I found myself the single mother of two children with special needs. Even though I have continued to always fight to get myself on the right career path for my family, I've never found the right path that works for our needs. I tried going to college, hoping that would get me on the right track, and did quite well until times got tough in my family life and I needed to quit. I have fought against the grain for fifteen years and basically gave up hope. WEN has shown me that I don't have to fight against the grain and I don't have to give up hope." - Marisol
College Graduates "After graduating in December from the University of Central Missouri I had thought I secured employment but to my surprise I had not. Months of job searching and no results forced me to realize something might be wrong in how I present myself or how my resume was formatted. I came to WEN in hopes to correct whatever issues I had in hopes to gain successful employment in my field. " - Britney
Women Reentering the Jobforce "After four years of being a caregiver to family members, getting back into the workforce seemed a little scary. Things have changed a lot in that short amount of time. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do or how I wanted to go about it. I knew I needed some help and a lot of support. I heard about Women’s Employment Network, read their website on the internet, and decided that it sounded like just what I needed. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made." - Erin
Although they all came to WEN with different needs and backgrounds, they have all since found employment.
Women come to WEN at all points in their career: some are returning to the workforce after years of raising children, others are laid off from long-term careers, and others are just starting out in the workforce. We thank you for helping us help these women, and hope you'll enjoy hearing about the success of a recent WEN program graduate, Jenny.
In May of 2013, Jenny Barry was a proud graduate of the University of Central Missouri, having earned a BS in Safety Management and a BA in Chemistry, she was ready for her role in the workforce. She was hoping to accomplish that before her first student loan payments were due.
After several months of applying for jobs in her field and not having much success, she heard about Women’s Employment Network and attended the September training session. At WEN she learned the importance of having a focused and strategic job search, how to look for career ladder opportunities and how to research the industries that needed her knowledge. She also honed her interviewing skills. Most importantly she accepted that education alone isn’t always enough, sometimes you have to get your foot in the door and prove yourself.
After completing the training she took a survival job to help stabilize her financial situation and continued a strategic WEN job search. As a result, in December she found her “dream job” as a lab technician at Catalent Pharma Solutions.
At the Women's Employment Network we are grateful for all the support we receive from people who believe in our mission of helping women raise their self-esteem and achieve economic independence through sustained employment.
The greatest impact always comes when people work together to achieve a common goal.
The Women's Employment Network has always valued collaboration whether with local companies and employers or with other Kansas City agencies serving those in need. Partnerships help us learn from each other and eliminate redundancy. WEN is excited to announce two new partnerships that will allow us to help even more Kansas City women.
WEN Joins with LISC to become Kansas City's second Financial Opportunity Center This month the Greater Kansas City Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation's largest community development organization, announced that they selected the Women's Employment Network as their second Kansas City Financial Opportunity Center.
WEN added Financial Coaching to our services in March 2013, and this new partnership gives us access to the methodology and resources developed by LISC as part of their Financial Opportunity Model. This model has a proven history of success and helps to ensure that WEN's Financial Coaching program will be effective. The LISC model provides services across three areas: employment placement and career improvement; financial education and coaching; and public benefits access. These core services are integrated and provided to clients in a bundled fashion in an effort to reinforce one another and to provide a comprehensive approach to income and wealth building.
LISC's service model complements WEN's employment training program and services, and this partnership will make it possible for WEN to help women find economic stability.
100 Jobs for 100 Moms Initiative Women's Employment recently became involved with two local agencies, Operation Breakthrough and Amethyst Place, on an initiative that aims to find jobs for Kansas City mothers. Given that stable employment and income are essential to the wellbeing of families, the 100 Jobs for 100 Moms initiative aims to match a mother trapped in generational poverty with a business willing to provide a job and on-the-job mentoring.
While these agencies serve many women in need of work, employment preparation and job search assistance are new ventures for Operation Breakthrough and Amethyst Place. By working with WEN they gain perspective on how guide women through the employment process. In addition, this initiative will work closely with area business partners who help provide a specialized work experience for moms who face a myriad of obstacles when pursuing traditional employment avenues.
Lasting employment that leads to economic stability will allow local families to live much better lives, and WEN is proud work collaboratively to make this a reality.
Without a job, it's hard to make ends meet. Not surprisingly, after sustained unemployment, many of the women who come to Women's Employment Network for help finding work also need help managing their finances and overcoming debt. Below is the story of one woman who WEN helped grow both professionally and financially.
Eva's story is a classic example of the learning process women go through at WEN with regard to their finances. When Eva first came to WEN she had stopped even opening bills. She had a $119 assistance check that was supposed to cover her utilities, but had hundreds of dollars of bills to pay. As part of WEN's Employment Preparation and Career Transition Training Program, clients participate in a budget drafting exercise that asks them to assess their monthly income and expenses, an experience that Eva remembers as being difficult: "It was painful talking about money. It was the hard truth that I didn't want to accept. I was crying and so was the woman next to me. We were holding each other."
During WEN's five-week training program she learned about budgeting, saving, and responsible use of credit. Since getting a job and learning to budget, she has been able to buy things that she couldn't afford before, including a lot of things for her children. These things include: beds for the children, cooking supplies, and school pictures. She admits, "it sounds like little stuff, but when you don't have it you really notice. It's big."
Her experience is not atypical of the women who come to Women's Employment Network for assistance. Seventy-five percent of WEN clients report income below the federal poverty line, with the other 25% not disclosing their income at intake. Of those who, starting in March 2013, have opted to work with WEN's Financial Coach, the average credit score is 539 and the average amount of debt in collection is $12,000. Without sufficient savings and with such poor credit, WEN clients are especially vulnerable to predatory lending such as payday loans, which feed into the cycle of poverty.
The Financial Coaching and Credit Building program was added to Women's Employment Network's program model in early 2013 to help WEN clients, graduates, women small business owners, and others in the community in build their credit and achieve their financial goals, so that their career gains are translated into increased wealth. WEN's Financial Coach is responsible for the management of the program, which involves ongoing one-on-one financial coaching, community outreach workshops, assistance with credit disputes and settlements, and rebuilding credit with a secured credit card.
The Financial Coaching and Credit Building Program is a thrilling addition to WEN's services and will undoubtedly help WEN's clients regain control of their financial futures.
Each woman who complete's Women's Employment Network's 5-week training program concludes the classroom portion of their employment journey by writing a reflection on what the course meant to them. Please enjoy one of these essays from a recent graduate:
When I initially went to the Women’s Employment Network, it was just to help me get a job. That was it. Now, just five weeks later, I realize there were so many more obstacles than just “getting a job” that has been keeping me from finding “the job”, “the career”, “the happy and professional life I have been waiting for”. From the Women’s Employment Network I have had the opportunity to get to know myself for who I actually am and can be, thus having increased confidence and more positive energy in my personal and professional life.
I began my professional life as a teen mother. Although, I was determined that my being a teen mother would not get in the way of building a stable professional life for myself, I did not realize how many obstacles would arise. I found myself a single mother of two children with special needs. Even though I have continued to always fight to get myself on the right career path for my family, I’ve never found the right path that works for our needs. I tried going to college, hoping that would get me on the right track, and did quite well until times got tough in my family life and I needed to quit. I have fought against the grain for fifteen years and basically gave up hope. The Women’s Employment Network has shown me that I don’t have to fight against the grain and that I don’t have to give up hope.
An admirable aspect of the Women’s Employment Network is that while they are educating and nurturing the authentic you, they are also providing so many employment resources and tools. You will not leave the Women’s Employment Network lacking any tool you may need in your job search or beyond. I entered into the program without a real focus on what my plan was professionally. I am graduating the program with a better focus on what my individual plan is to search for a job that works for my needs and interests. I now have the confidence, proper attire and tools, strong support, and a great jumpstart to keep me on this new positive path that I have found through the Women’s Employment Network.
Thank you so much WEN for giving me the opportunity to grow.
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