The Women's Center of Tarrant County has been helping women and families since 1979 with a wide array of services, ranging from crisis counseling to violence education and prevention. Central to its mission of empowering women, men and children of all ages and backgrounds is guiding them to as they find a lifelong career.
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Based out of Fort Worth, The Women's Center goes beyond just finding jobs; it helps people discover vocations they might not have considered, such as commercial truck driving and welding, while at the same time, helping them overcome obstacles.
"We want people who come through our doors to pursue fulfilling career paths with options to grow and develop instead of settle for unstable jobs leading them to live paycheck to paycheck," said Jasmine Folan, a director at The Women's Center. "When people are passionate about what they do and recognize the impact of their contributions, they set themselves up for success."
The center's industry-specific, targeted skills training program follows the Working Families Success model – a national strategy used to assist low-income families that grants jobseekers access to employment services, income support and financial coaching. To qualify, candidates must attend an information session, commit to train for a one- to six-month period, and stand out to the center's coaches.
Once accepted, applicants work one-on-one with coaches to identify their strengths and determine their best course of action, which could include taking courses offered by the Center or from local educational institutions.
"So often, people have the passion and perseverance to be great employees but may not even be considered for offerings because they're going through a traumatic experience or lack proper resources," Folan said. "With our offerings, they can receive counseling, meet with coaches who will help them create a stable plan and enroll in training sessions."
In 2019 alone, the Center's Employment Solutions Department assisted nearly 450 women and men, including one woman whose experience changed her life. Sayonara Polk is a single mother of four who landed a reliable job in the trucking industry, built an emergency fund and learned how to budget.
"When I first entered the program, I felt a little overwhelmed and didn't know what to expect," Polk said. "Once I started putting things into perspective and applying myself, my world took a 360-degree turn for the better."
She said she gained self-confidence and developed a work-life balance, allowing her to spend more time with her children. "I no longer have to worry about losing my house and can focus on what really matters," Polk added.
As part of the 40-year-old organization's mission, The Women's Center of Tarrant County recognizes that finding ways to reduce the number of unemployed and underemployed citizens is critical to help the community thrive and reduce the skills gap.
"Even though a declining unemployment rate may appear fine on the surface, it's important to assess the feasibility of getting ahead and long-term advancement options of the jobs being filled," Folan said. "The Women's Center exists to help people, particularly single female head of households and women of color, discover high-demand fields offering financial security and receive proper training to excel."
The Center's success stories are made possible thanks to its passionate employees and support from organizations like Union Pacific, who donated $25,000 to The Women's Center of Tarrant County via the Community Ties Giving Program in 2019.
"We're grateful to continue providing as many services as we can under one roof," Folan said. "We're even more pleased to know that 100 percent of our clients who found jobs through our services were still employed after one year."