After battling a drug addiction that led to unemployment, homelessness, and eventually imprisonment, Tiffany was looking for a fresh start as she completed rehab and got sober. She found PA Organization for Women in Early Recovery (POWER), a local organization that helps women build a strong foundation to sustain their recovery.
“Once I got connected with POWER, I knew I would need to find a job, but I just didn’t know where to start,” Tiffany explained. “This was a new beginning for me.”
PA Women Work partners with POWER to offer its GROW program, which supports job seekers in overcoming their unique barriers to obtaining employment. GROW is a trauma-informed course that meets each job seeker where they are in their journey and helps them address their individual challenges; create a new resume; realize their strengths; and ultimately connect them with a job at which they can succeed.
Tiffany knew GROW could help her get back on her feet. She participated in the program in January 2021. “PA Women Work helped me expand my resume, and the class allowed me to really focus on myself,” Tiffany said. “I had shunned away from applying for certain jobs, but this class helped me build confidence and see my worth.”
During GROW, Tiffany identified job opportunities that fit her needs and set attainable goals for herself. She learned how to respond to tough questions about her incarceration during interviews and developed skills to present herself more professionally. After just a couple of months job hunting, Tiffany found a job and is moving into a new apartment in just a few weeks.
“This job is great for me right now. I like it a lot,” Tiffany said. “As women, we beat ourselves down, but we are all worth so much more. GROW is a great opportunity for women who are looking to start their life again.”
To learn more about GROW, contact Susan Showalter-Bucher, director of programs, PA Women Work, at email@example.com.
*The client’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.
Angela grew up in Auburn, AL, and faced extreme poverty as a child. She became a single mother as a child herself at the age of 13. She worked hard to support herself and her children by moving out on her own and working multiple jobs. Shortly after, she was hit by a car and nearly died. After months of rehabilitation, she prevailed, and despite now living with a disability, she continued to work. Now that her kids are grown, Angela fulfilled a life-long dream of leaving Alabama and began a new life in Pittsburgh. Upon her arrival, she had no job and no place to live. With help, she found PA Women Work, where she built the confidence and skills she needed to find a job that fit her needs.
Ten years ago, as Carla Tonzo was looking to get back into the workforce, she learned about Pennsylvania Women Work. After participating in several of the organization’s services, she embarked on a decade-long career as a medical receptionist with a hands-on approach and a love for helping people.
Carla had recently started a new job after her previous employer had retired, when her position was downsized due to COVID-19. “I was only there a few months. When I got the news, I felt a whole range of emotions – shock, disappointment and anger,” Carla reflected.
Carla dove into a challenging and unsuccessful job search, getting calls for interviews but not landing a single one.
Carla was struggling. “I was down. I had no idea what to do next,” she explained. Then, she remembered the skills she learned years ago from Pennsylvania Women Work. She discovered the organization was now offering its New Choices career development program virtually and decided to sign up.
Carla found she was surrounded by others experiencing the same challenges. “It helped knowing I had company," she remembered. “I realized that I wasn’t going through this alone, and it made all the difference.”
During New Choices, Carla learned to articulate her skills, revised her resume, discovered new job opportunities and connected with her classmates. After New Choices, Carla participated in a virtual mock interview and joined an Employer Meet & Greet session, which helped refine her networking and interview skills.
“Programs like this are valuable, helping job-seekers regain their confidence and learn to network,” she shared.
She was recently hired as a receptionist at UPMC and started her new job in October.
“I am so thankful for the help and support,” Carla said. “The guidance I received helped me to make lasting
professional connections and find a career I can be proud of.”