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AROUND TOWN: Women's Resource Agency empowers women toward the workplace

October 30, 2016 Updated: October 30, 2016 at 11:27 pm
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photo - Torie Jennings Giffin, right, thanked her former Women's Resource Agency mentor Beth Hall Roalstad for helping her achieve her business dream.
101116 Photo by Linda Navarro
Torie Jennings Giffin, right, thanked her former Women's Resource Agency mentor Beth Hall Roalstad for helping her achieve her business dream. 101116 Photo by Linda Navarro  

They're on F.I.R.E. at the Women's Resource Agency.

It's an empowering flame, helping women into the workplace and in their personal development, the WRA told supporters at the Oct. 11 Hopes & Dreams Breakfast.

F.I.R.E. is their focus to "Fearlessly Inspire Results through Empowerment," executive director Melissa Marts said.

Statistics shared showed that 45 percent of the almost 900 adult women served by WRA this year are employed within three months. InterCept, their program for at-risk girls in grades 8 to 12, some juvenile offenders, showed that 99 percent graduated from high school, 32 percent got jobs and 99 percent did not repeat as offenders.

Nina Diaz was one of the teen success stories, saying she had dealt with serious problems that led to her dropping out of school, then later was expelled and sentenced to Teen Court. Completing the InterCept program, she is setting new goals including graduating from Community Prep School and going on to college in the music field. As the day's video said about Nina and other InterCept girls, "I am not my mistake."

City community development manager Aimee Cox, a successful career woman, used her own family story to show the value of WRA. "We were poor" and her single-parent mom told Aimee and her siblings "not to let people know we were poor because when they knew, we would be treated as a problem. She told us to listen and blend in." She did, graduating from college with honors. Then, at 24, she was single, pregnant and on Medicaid. This mother on welfare pushed forward to get her master's degree, serve in elected office and have a city job working to house the homeless.

Torie Jennings Giffin hadn't been a woman who needed anything like the Women's Resource Agency, she said. She was a stay-at-home mom in her 30s who taught spin classes and happily a career wasn't important. The tech market crash changed everything when her husband was laid off, tossing them into food stamps, WIC, Y Assist and government health care.

Giffin's own job skills were outdated. At WRA, Giffin was helped on an updated road to a job, even including career clothing. She found a job she loved, and one of the things she loved was cycling.

Then she started dreaming and, mentored by WRA's Beth Roalstad and with a network of friends, she set out to open a resort for bicycle tourists. This summer, Buffalo Lodge Bicycle Resort became reality. "The Women's Resource Agency (WRAinc.org) helps women like me see ourselves for our potential and provides us the tools to get there."

More photos: gazette.com/life/around-town

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