BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

From Jail to Class Leader

Posted by gansie on August 5, 2010

Business and Professional Women Foundation’s “Moving from Red to Green: Working Women in the Green Economy” initiative connects women to the emerging green economy by providing green job training. With generous support from the Walmart FoundationBPW Foundation‘s four pilot programs have been awarded $60,000 grants to expand their capacity to train women for green jobs.Women in NonTraditional Employment Roles is one of the grantees.

Here is how BPW Foundation is supporting women’s involvment in sustainability work.

Karen (not her real name) came to Women in NonTraditional Employment Roles (WINTER) in 2006 seeking help after going from job to job hoping to find a meaningful career. She graduated from WINTER and soon after gained employment with Shell Refinery making $19.45/hour.

Unfortunately, Karen suffered from alcoholism and allowed it to impact her performance at work. One day during her lunch break Karen decided to have a beer, thinking that no one would be the wiser. She was wrong.

Karen’s supervisor caught her in the act and she was fired from the refinery, causing a downward spiral into depression and more alcohol. Before she knew it, she was convicted of driving under the influence and was sentenced to jail.

As a condition of her release from jail, Karen was put on probation, ordered to a rehabilitation center, and attended mandatory Alcohol Anonymous meetings weekly. She knew that her conviction along with the court restrictions would make it very difficult to find employment. Moreover, her certifications had expired and she didn’t have money to renew them.

Although Karen remembered WINTER’s unconditional commitment to help women interested in blue collar careers, she was ashamed of her actions and feared that she wouldn’t receive a second chance. Despite her fear, Karen called WINTER and made an appointment to meet with a coordinator.

Karen shared her experience with WINTER and was welcomed back with open arms. She began the WINTERGreen Training Program, a project funded in part by BPW Foundation and Walmart Foundation, on January 11, 2010, almost exactly three years after her previous training.

Karen excelled in training, providing guidance and help to those in need. She earned certifications in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER), Refinery Safety Overview (RSO), CPR/First Aid, Asbestos Worker, Introduction to Green Construction and Lead Worker.

The class voted her as Class Speaker, and this March, Karen stood in front of family members and friends and courageously shared her story with dignity and confidence.

The following week after graduation, Karen visited all of the refineries in the greater Los Angeles area. Every day, she called and visited the refineries, never losing hope and never giving up. And a month later, her perseverance paid off.

Karen was offered a job as a Fire Watch in Los Angeles, which she began early in June at a pay rate of $21 per hour. She has since moved into a sober living home and continues to attend her Alcoholic Anonymous meetings on a regular basis. Karen has pledged to help future WINTER women and has offered to buy work boots for a participant in need.

Karen is proof that women can overcome any obstacle with a little help from caring individuals and WINTER. With initiative, perseverance, hard work, and dedication, anyone can be a success!

The WINTERGreen Program is a social enterprise component of Women In Non Traditional Employment Roles, a non-profit organization dedicated to building a pipeline of diverse, well-qualified women for career opportunities in the environmental remediation and green retrofit fields. WINTERGreen provides certified training and employment to women to green their communities as they learn to perform valuable work and improve their work skills.

Working Women in the Green Economy bpwfoundation.org/greenforwomen


One Response to “From Jail to Class Leader”

  1. […] Green Success Stories From Nail Polish to Residential Weatherization From Jail to Class Leader […]

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