“There is finally a program that helps women who are trying to help themselves.” Stephanie D., a recovering addict and single mother, spoke of her experience in the Women’s Bureau’s Working Women in Transition (WWIT) program at the June 7, 2007, graduation ceremony at the Hope Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.
New WWIT graduates at the Hope Center graduation ceremony. They are joined by Women’s Bureau and Hope Center representatives. (Women’s Bureau photo)
The appropriately-named Hope Center, a faith-based organization, conducted the graduation ceremony for current and past recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) who completed the WWIT program. Graduates entered the auditorium with the traditional Pomp and Circumstance setting the tempo and were welcomed by Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola. Women’s Bureau Director Shinae Chun’s keynote reinforced the theme of hope as she inspired the women to continue to pursue their dreams for a better life for themselves and for their children.
WWIT graduate Stephanie D. attends a technical college where she is a full-time student preparing for a nursing career.
WWIT graduate Stephanie D. speaks at the Hope Center graduation ceremony. (Women’s Bureau photo)
“I am trying to do everything to ensure a healthy future for my son and myself. The motivational speakers have given me a lot of hope because they came out of hard situations and succeeded in their lives. I was worried about keeping up with my school work when my home computer crashed, but the WWIT program provided a laptop, and because of their help I maintained my 4.0 GPA. When I needed to move to a safer neighborhood where there was not constant gunfire, the women running Arkansas WWIT came to my aid, counseled me, nurtured me, and encouraged me. I am very passionate about this program, because it has enhanced some skills that I never even knew I had.”
WWIT is a multi-regional demonstration project focusing on women who are making a significant transition in their work lives. WWIT uses the Bureau’s strategy of combining both “high tech” and “high touch” components (online and interpersonal resources) to assist women in finding employment, increasing their earnings, entering into career education/training opportunities, and/or starting a business.
The Women’s Bureau contracted with the Hope Center to assist current and former TANF recipients to reach their career goals. As part of the project:
- The Hope Center reinforced independent living skills with workshops on budgeting, credit counseling, and facts for first-time home buyers.
- Personal enhancement workshops included the importance of networking, reaching your goals, keeping a positive attitude, and improving self-esteem.
- Pre-employment education consisted of resume writing, interviewing skills, and job searching.
- Participants gained basic computer skills, and donated computers were refurbished and provided to those women who most needed them for their training programs.
- Assistance was provided as needed, including help with common needs such as food, clothing, child care, and transportation, and less common but vital assistance such as legal matters.
Under the leadership of Joan Adcock, Director, assisted by Linda McConnell, Program Director, the Hope Center helped 100 women reach their WWIT goals. According to Joan Adcock:
“It was truly a joy to work with all of the women. There were several highs, from seeing them receive their computers, looking at semester grades, listening to the excitement as they celebrated successes in their journey, and it was topped off with our graduation. It was a night we will never forget. How wonderful it has been to be able to make such an impact on their lives. As we continue to follow these women, we look forward to many more successes.”
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