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Twenty-nine women graduated from Women’s Empowerment’s job-readiness program for women who are homeless on March 22, including the group’s 900th graduate, Stacey Jackson, age 53. Jackson is now in housing and enrolled in Paratransit Inc.’s vehicle operator training program.
“Women’s Empowerment showed me that you can do things and make changes after 50,” Jackson said. “I am now very proud to see what I see when I look in the mirror. The changes I’ve gone through have shed a whole new light on my life.”
Jackson was born in Missouri to a low-income military family that mostly ate rice and beans. She and her sisters slept in one room while her brother slept in the living room. She married, and 31 years later, her husband left her. She lost her house and turned to Women’s Empowerment for help. At Women’s Empowerment, she drew on her father’s work ethic and encouragement to continually “better themselves.”
“At orientation, I was asked why I wanted to come to Women’s Empowerment,” Jackson said. “I told them I have too much talent and too many skills not to share myself with the world.”
More than 200 community members, including graduates’ mentors and families, attended the graduation where each graduate shared her story and future plans through poetry, songs and speeches centered around the theme, “diamonds in the rough.” Each woman received a donated gift bag filled with a day planner and other items designed to help her succeed. The gift bags were donated by the Zonta Club of Sacramento and Soroptimist International of Greater Sacramento.
“We are profoundly proud of each of these 29 women who have joined 887 other women who were once homeless but have found a safe home, a steady job and a healthy lifestyle,” said Lisa Culp, Women’s Empowerment executive director. “They are breaking the cycle of homelessness for generations to come.”
Women’s Empowerment offers the only comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The 2009 Nonprofit of the Year has graduated 916 homeless women and their 1,379 children. Last year, 94 percent of graduates found homes and 73 percent found jobs or enrolled in school. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded solely through private donations from the community. For more information and to donate online, visit www.womens-empowerment.org.