The Working Women in Transition (WWIT) project for single mothers in Philadelphia provides participants with the skills and confidence they need to pursue their career goals. The Women’s Bureau contracted with Pennsylvania Women Work! for the combined WWIT-New Choices/New Options project at the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP).
WWIT is a multi-regional Women’s Bureau demonstration project focusing on women who are making a significant transition in their work lives. Sites in ten states target incarcerated women, Hurricane Katrina survivors, Native American and rural women, recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, women recovering from substance abuse, baby boomers changing careers, Asian American women desiring to start or grow their own businesses, or single mothers.
The Philadelphia WWIT project enhances CCP’s New Choices/New Options program with 1) online mentoring in which WWIT participants send questions to volunteer WWIT mentors via email; 2) face-to-face mentoring by WWIT mentors eager to interact personally with participants; 3) extra skills training for participants who need it; and 4) a tracking mechanism to ensure that no one slips through the cracks. The WWIT project also encourages greater employer involvement.
From August through December 2006, the Women’s Bureau and Pennsylvania Women Work! provided ten pre-employment workshops focusing on skill set analysis, networking, self-esteem, interviewing, stress management, budgeting, time management, career planning, goal setting, and resume building. Each participant also attended an introductory computer class, and each phase of the job search is being done online.
On February 5, 2007, Women's Bureau Director Shinae Chun visited Philadelphia’s WWIT project. She observed first hand WWIT graduate Dana LuCona’s typical workday, starting with breakfast for her children at 6:00 am. She then met with WWIT participants at CCP.
WWIT Participants Dana LuCona and Rita Johnson
Dana LuCona, a single mother of three daughters and a son, is a graduate of the WWIT-New Choices/New Options program. She currently works full-time as a caterer and attends the Community College of Philadelphia as a distance-learning student majoring in Hospitality/Hotel Management. She dreams of one day owning her own hotel.
"Before the program, my only concern was myself and my children. I soon realized that I needed to reach out to people because I had a lot to offer as well as gain from them. I used these skills at work as well as in the classroom. I am so very grateful for this program and the impact that it has made on my life. There is finally a program that helps women who are trying to help themselves." Dana LuCona
Rita Johnson, a single mother of one, came to the program to try to overcome her low self-esteem. She also felt she wasn’t being treated with respect in her personal life and as an employee. She wanted a new beginning that would enable her to reach her goal of becoming a successful entrepreneur. She now plans to open her own gospel dinner theater and boutique. She is diligently searching for a building to house her business and believes that as she continues to excel, she will achieve her dream.
"Fate brought me to WWIT and New Choices/New Options. The program helped me realize my potential. I was surrounded by supportive and encouraging staff that motivated me to excel and to reach my destiny." Rita Johnson
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