The Linda and Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, helping women find a safe and nurturing place to go as a resource for self-improvement and self-empowerment. The Center’s environment fosters networking and offers resources for women who are in transition in their lives or careers.
The Center for Women, a unique nonsectarian nonprofit community service, is available to all women in Essex County and the surrounding area. It has helped thousands of women with job searches, computer skills and building self-confidence. The Center for Women has grown so much over the past 35 years, largely due to its dedicated professional staff.
As Program Coordinator of the Center for Women, Jill Kapleau works directly with the staff, volunteers, and clients, to ensure that day-to-day operations run smoothly and efficiently. Kapleau also evaluates what services are missing in the community, helps to create new programs to meet these needs, and refers clients to outside agencies for additional assistance when necessary. “It is always rewarding to help women find services that will aid in solving their problems and enriching their lives in the process,” states Kapleau.
The Center has a dynamic Career Services team that works together to help clients attain their goals through its many programs. Patty Kremen, Career Services Manager, sees women who have suffered the loss of a spouse or those who may be experiencing other difficult emotional circumstances. “Listening to our clients is the best part of my job,” Kremen explains. “Hearing their dreams, acknowledging who they are, and affirming that they will be able to overcome their obstacles is most gratifying and motivating.”
Barbara Sunberg, also a Career Services Manager, works with women returning to the workforce after being absent for many years, or who are embarking on a new career direction. “I am inspired by my clients every day,” says Sunberg. “I strive to help each woman gain a heightened awareness of her untapped talents, achieve greater confidence in her own abilities, and develop new skills to meet the challenges of today’s job market.” She adds, “It means so much to me when my clients explain how grateful and appreciative they are for all the resources and services made available to them through the Center for Women.”
“We strive to make a difference in the lives of the women we serve,” states Kathy Murphy, Case Manager. “Clients come with a variety of emotional needs and diverse employment backgrounds, and we pride ourselves on being able to help develop a personalized approach that works best for them.”
Computer classes are an important service at the heart of the Center for Women. Led by Susan Fass, coordinator of the computer program, students range in ability from those who are completely unfamiliar with computers to those who just need a little refresher. For women trying to re-enter the job market, or just wanting to learn how to use a computer for personal use, there is a class at every level. Fass explains, “It is an amazing feeling to see someone gain the confidence to figure something out on her own.” Fass’s favorite comment is, “Now I don’t have to rely on my children!”
A story that resonates throughout the Center is that women feel defined and often constrained by their role as caregivers. Clients come to the Center lacking the strength or confidence to seek employment and create a new life for themselves, but leave with a sense of self-empowerment and accomplishment. Sue Wasserman, Director of Community Services who oversees the Center for Women sums it up: “Our entire staff takes a very compassionate approach to helping women and is extremely conscious of taking the time to develop relationships with each client. This very personalized approach is successful in giving women a fresh perspective.”
As the Center looks to the future, the dedicated professional staff hopes to reach many more women to help them gain life skills, independence, self-esteem, and career opportunities. After all…life changes…the Center for Women can help!