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.