by Mrinal Gokhale
Transitioning into the community after experiencing domestic violence, incarceration, addiction and similar struggles can be difficult.
United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha in partnership with ManpowerGroup, Community Advocates and Sojourner Family Peace Center, held their Women’s Job Seminar to help local women overcome barriers to employment on Thursday, Nov. 10.
Now in its tenth year, the annual seminar has helped thousands of women find employment, according to Karissa Gretebeck, manager of corporate volunteerism and engagement at United Way Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County.
“Women receiving services through organizations like Interfaith Older Adults, Sojourner Family Peace Center and the Milwaukee Urban League are referred to our seminar each year,” Gretebeck said.
Starting at 8:30 a.m., hundreds of women were in and out of the daylong event at ManpowerGroup (100 W. Manpower Place). They took workshops in financial planning, resume writing and interviewing, led by volunteers from numerous community organizations.
“Each woman practiced a mock interview three times. At the end of the day these women have a new resume, interviewing skills and a financial planning sheet,” Gretebeck said.
Raven Wilson, a loan executive at United Way, volunteered at the financial planning workshop.
She sat with Julia Ramirez, a single mother originally from Mexico who was getting a divorce after suffering domestic abuse at the hands of her husband.
“I plan to get my GED next year at Journey House and go to college for criminal justice,” said Ramirez.
Ironically, Wilson was taking this same workshop at last year’s seminar.
“In January 2015, I was laid off from North Shore Bank’s corporate office and ended up in a domestic violence relationship with my husband in March,” Wilson said.
“I became homeless with my four children and was job searching the whole year.”
After staying at the Cathedral Center and Salvation Army while homeless, Wilson said, she became employed through Milwaukee Urban League’s Transform Jobs Program for a six-month duration. The Milwaukee Urban League referred her to the seminar.
“I came here a week after entering the Milwaukee Urban League in November 2015 and got my current job in the same week,” Wilson said.
Wilson volunteered this day hoping to help and inspire other women in the same situation as she was once in.
In addition to job prep skills, a fashion show was held at noon, featuring volunteer attendees who modeled professional outfits donated by Community Advocates. These attendees were able to keep their outfits and each woman received a blazer donated by Community Advocates.