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By Graduating from a Career Training Program, Women Take First Steps out of Poverty

Graduates from the Spring 2014 "Higher Opportunities for Women" program at Project Self-Sufficiency gather to celebrate their success.
HIgher Opportunities for Women graduate Sonia Pollatsek celebrates her success.

Fourteen women recently graduated from Project Self-Sufficiency's "Higher Opportunities for Women" job training program.  The intensive 16-week employability skills course combines computer training, classes in workplace navigation, and life skills education with on-the-job experience at a community work site.  Graduates leave the program with newfound confidence, along with the skills necessary for landing an entry-level administrative position.  The program has trained more than 1,000 women since its inception.


Project Self-Sufficiency’s “Higher Opportunities for Women” (HOW) training program is designed for women who are seeking to re-enter the workforce or those who may have been underemployed for a number of years.  In addition to computer skills training, the HOW Program includes classroom instruction, and placement at an unpaid externship at a community employment site, which further prepares participants to successfully venture into the job market.  Over the years, Project Self Sufficiency has partnered with a variety of local businesses, non-profit organizations and government entities to provide HOW participants with the opportunity to hone their new computer skills and gain workplace experience. 

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Patrice Green, Coordinator of the Career Center at Project Self-Sufficiency, remarks, “The HOW program is uniquely packaged to provide eligible women with education, support and guidance.  Participants learn up-to-date computer skills and gain the confidence necessary to compete in today’s job market.”


Classroom time is devoted to computer training, careering instruction, life skills training and interviewing strategies.  Since the HOW program’s inception, hundreds of women have learned marketable skills leading to economic self-sufficiency.  Graduates from the most recent HOW program at Project Self-Sufficiency include Tyann Acevedo, Kaitlin Bentley, Samantha Bushman, Sue Ehrman, Dana-Marie Fawthrop, Michelle Gaboda, Ewa Gajdzinska, Rita McFadden, Kim Messier, Sonia Pollatsek, Mary Lou Puccia, Lauren Schweitzer, and Brenda Tello, among others.


“When I first came here I didn’t know what to expect.  I was nervous,” confided HOW graduate Sonia Pollatsek.  “But then as I realized I wasn’t alone.  We all have a story to tell.  I have a lot of office experience, but I needed to brush up on a lot of different skills.  This program has been so positive.  I learned so many different things.”


Cora Chandler, HOW Program Coordinator, added, “The HOW program helps the whole individual.   Participants learn to become more confident and more professional.  The program is also successful because of the support they receive from their case managers and from each other.”


An abbreviated version of the HOW program, the Summer Office Skills course, will be offered at Project Self-Sufficiency on Tuesdays and Thursdays, July 8th through August 28th, from 9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.  Interested Income-eligible women are encouraged to call 973-940-3500 to apply.

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