The group assists women who are homeless, jobless or in abusive situations. Women’s Empowerment has served 916 women and their 1,376 children. In May 2009, they were named Nonprofit of the Year by the Nonprofit Resource Center, one of the highest honors a nonprofit can receive in the Sacramento region.
"The mission of Women’s Empowerment is to educate and empower women who are homeless with the skills and confidence necessary to get a job, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and regain a home for themselves and their children. Our partnership with Pipeworks has become essential to the fulfillment of that mission," said Nancy Nguyen, the program assistant at Women's Empowerment.
Women's Empowerment runs eight week sessions in which a new group of women learns the importance of caring for their bodies through exercise and healthy eating. Nguyen sent Touchstone a testimonial about one of the members who had a life changing experience through the program and Pipeworks.
"I was a runner," admits Linda, one member of the group. When any obstacles arose in her life, Linda would flee. Her upbringing was traumatic, and she struggled with both drug use and hoarding "because objects wouldn't reject me." After so many challenges, Linda became homeless.
Linda was referred to Women's Empowerment by homeless advocates. She was told the program helped women get a new start. Counselors helped Linda face her fears and mend her broken spirit. She learned practical skills from volunteer teachers, and thanks to health counseling, quit smoking. At Women's Empowerment Linda discovered the strength to quit running and start fighting. “I learned that I mattered to myself, to my family, to my friends and to my community. Now I have a full toolbox, and a group of encouraging women around me.”
While at Women’s Empowerment, Linda took advantage of two amazing classes: nutrition and financial literacy. The nutrition class helped Linda learn about healthier eating habits and preparing nutritious meals on a budget. In financial literacy, Linda discovered that her priorities and her practices weren’t in alignment. She needed to save every dollar she had to pay her rent but she had been drinking soda daily since she was a toddler – an expensive luxury that didn’t support her goals.
The job readiness programs prepared her for work, but on a job interview for Paratransit, Linda failed the physical because she was overweight. Instead of accepting defeat, she called on her new inner fortitude and leadership. She started an early morning walking group with graduates from the program, stopped spending money on soda, and kept preparing healthy meals.
Linda lost over 100 pounds this year, pursued a second shot at the physical--and passed!
Today she has a home, health insurance and a job as a Community Outreach Ambassador and driver for Paratransit. Linda drives for the Wheels to Work program, developed by Women’s Empowerment as a community partnership with other nonprofits. The Wheels to Work vans provide mobile employment services and transportation for homeless people in our community. Now Linda helps our neighbors escape homelessness through employment…just like she did.
"We want everyone to know how integral Pipeworks and their fitness services are to the success of our women. If Linda had not started exercising at Pipeworks, she never would have found her path towards self-sufficiency...a path that was only possible if she lost weight and got health," said Nguyen.