This fall the Linda and Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women is celebrating its 35th anniversary, a milestone in its rich history of helping women to gain independence, self-esteem, life skills and career opportunities.
The Center for Women was established in 1981 in response to a need for support for women within Essex County. It then expanded in 1989 to help women who, due to various circumstances, needed to re-enter the workforce to support themselves and their families. Since then, the Center has become an anchor for women at every stage of life. As Jill Kapleau, the Program Coordinator for the Center for Women explains, “Our Center is an ongoing support system for women whose lives may have taken an unexpected turn. With our help they find the means to move ahead, support themselves and their families, and set a positive example for their children.”
Patty Kremen, Career Services Manager for the Center for Women, typically sees clients who have just gone through difficult emotional circumstances and don’t know what their next steps in life are going to be. “When they walk through our doors, our Center becomes a safe place for them to land,” says Ms. Kremen. The Center offers a variety of programs that help women move on. The programs and services are connected, creating an interwoven fabric to catch women who feel like they are falling and put them back on their feet. As Ms. Kremen notes, “the biggest gift is watching someone utilize our job clubs, vocational boots camps, computer classes and the RISE Institute (Reaching Into Self-Empowerment) to help them believe again in themselves and their self-worth. When this happens then job opportunities begin to fall into place.”
Sue Wasserman, NCJW/Essex Director of Community Services who oversees the Center for Women, is proud of the unique approach that the Center takes when dealing with clients. “Our entire staff takes a very compassionate approach to helping women and is extremely conscious of taking the time to develop a personal relationship with each client,” says Ms. Wasserman. Ms. Kremen echoes this sentiment: “It’s our job to sit and listen to women tell their stories so we understand who they have become. We are not an employment agency, or a one-stop government agency. We’re here for emotional stability and to assist each woman find her next step.”
As the Center for Women looks ahead to the next chapter, it hopes to increase the number of women being served each year and create more programs to help women get back on their feet. As Ms. Kapleau reflects, “Each woman and family helped by the Center for Women is a huge accomplishment of the program and we hope to see this grow. Our goal for the future is to continue to identify the unmet needs of women and expand the Center’s services to meet them.”
“In 35 years we have certainly come a long way but there are more women out there who need our help,” explains Ms. Wasserman. “We intend to be here for them in the years to come to continue empowering women and changing lives.”
The Center for Women has helped thousands of women with computer skills, job searches and personal guidance. Our team of both staff and volunteers helps guide women to the programs they will benefit from the most. All services are confidential. For more information visit www.centerforwomenNJ.org, call (973) 994-4994 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Programs are nonsectarian and open to all women, regardless of religion.