The Kentucky Derby brings to mind big hats and mint juleps, but for the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) of the United Way of Washington County, it also can be a fun way to raise money for single mothers in need.
The WLC is working to bring the program Women Achieving New Direction (WAND) to Washington County, an initiative to promote self-sufficiency in working, very low-income single mothers by supporting career and wage advancement.
“The program is very successful in other counties in the metro area, so we would like to bring it here,” said Susan Paquette, president of United Way of Washington County-East.
Many of the low-income single mothers work in either part- or full-time positions with little opportunity for promotions or pay raises.
“WAND helps women with skills, networking, identifying strengths and establish mentors,” Paquette said. “The goal is to raise pay for women by 30 percent.”
For those in need of assistance, the program will offer employment and training services including counseling, workshops, one-on-one mentoring and assistance accessing short-term career training.
“I think it is great to look at the need in our community,” said Kristen Castillo. “We looked at two areas of need in Washington County, one was the elderly and the other was single moms with children.”
Castillo said that they see an immediate need for mothers supporting children, and they wanted to do something that could be implemented quickly.
“The program is already successful elsewhere, and we can make a difference now,” Castillo said.
The group hosted a Kentucky Derby-themed fundraising event at the oak Glen Country Club in Stillwater on May 3, and estimated 75 people attended.
“We wanted to do the event in May and had thought to do a Mother’s Day tea,” Paquette said. “The derby theme seemed like more fun for everyone to get involved.”
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