It stands to reason that women would want to support single moms seeking job training that will lead them to a stable income. “The YWCA was my shoulder to lean on,” said 26-year-old LaTia Williams of Birmingham. “They helped me stay positive through (a domestic violence situation), because I wanted to give up a long time ago.”
Williams didn’t give up and is participating in the YWoodlawn Works project, a collaboration of YWCA Central Alabama and MPower Ministries. The project provides wraparound services to low-income women while they complete job training or educational programs that lead to living wage jobs.
Wraparound services – many involving community partnerships – include monetary assistance for job training programs, job placement, continuing education, GED prep, income supplements for students and the unemployed, and assistance with such necessities as food, medical care, transportation vouchers, car repair, rent, and more.
Among the YWoodlawn Works partners is The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, which has funded innovative solutions to accelerate economic opportunities for women and their families since 1996. The Women’s Fund has invested $36,160 in the YWoodlawn Works program. This program is also backed by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and the Housing Affordability Trust.
“The Women’s Fund support of this program was initiated in the fall of 2018, and the career coach and case management aspect of the YWCA’s Family Resource Center began in January of 2019,” explained Kristi Kakoliris, BSW. Since May, she has served YW clients as a Family Resource Center career coach and case manager.
The program has 17 low-income participants from the Woodlawn and Greater Birmingham area, and 14 of these are women. All but one are single mothers like Williams.
“LaTia is a great person,” Kakoliris said. “We assisted LaTia with housing in the past, but she lives on her own now. We assisted her with contacting a staffing agency that placed her at the Honda plant making $10.50 an hour. I also encouraged her to apply for the Certified Medical Assistant training program through Christ Health Center. Fifty people applied, and LaTia was one of only 20 people who got in!”
Williams has three beautiful young daughters and provides full-time care for her youngest child. She hopes they’ll see their mom become a traveling nurse one day. Full-time CMAs earn an average of $15 per hour, but Williams plans to continue her education to become a registered nurse. RNs in Alabama earn an average salary of $57,000 per year. For now, Williams is focusing on repairing her credit, shoring up her finances and completing the CMA program she started on Aug. 20.
“I’ll walk in June,” a confident Williams said. She doesn’t regret reaching out to the YWCA in her time of need. She wants to share her story with other YWCA women, so they’ll also have the courage to take those crucial first steps.
“You know how some people feel about going to a shelter or to temporary housing, but if I never came to the YWCA, I just don’t know,” Williams said. “I was in a situation and had to find somewhere to go, so I would be able to pull through it. The YWCA helped me, and I appreciate them.”
Williams hopes donors continue to support YWoodlawn Works. “Anything you give makes a difference in someone else’s life, a life like mine. YWCA helped me so much with bills and housing and the childcare program.” That help has catapulted a young mom toward a brighter future.
“It has been a long journey for me with everything I’ve been through, but my YWCA case manager helped me see a positive future for myself. Sometimes it gets a little depressing, but she keeps me going.”
What also keeps her going is her three daughters. She hopes against all hope that they never encounter the struggles their mom did in life. But she has a bit of advice, if they do: “never give up.”