Paying It Forward

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA  |  Story and photos by Jacqueline Fox
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From L-R: Lisa Culp, founder and executive director, Women’s Empowerment (WEP), Kristen Garl, General Manager, Express Employment Professionals, NE Sacramento, Kathryn Ontiveros, accounting specialist at Express Employment Professionals, and WEP Development Manager, Holly Byrom, celebrate a donation from Express Employment’s annual Pay if Forward campaign.

Express Employment Hiring Drive Generates Funding for Sacramento’s Women’s Empowerment

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Express Employment Professionals (EMP) NE Sacramento has again put women in need at the top of their philanthropic agenda, which means more homeless women across the Sacramento region will have an opportunity to create a pathway to change this year.

Since 2015, EMP has donated $10 to a nonprofit of its choosing for every first-time job placement booked through its agency during Annual Pay It Forward Holiday Hiring Drive, which runs from November to December.  EMP has more than 750 franchised locations across the country and each conduct their own individual philanthropic programs. 

In 2015, Express Employment staff voted to support Women’s Empowerment of Sacramento (WEP) through as part of its giving back campaign.  The 2016 drive, the sixth annual campaign, generated 62 first-time job placements, culminating in a total of $620.00 for WEP.  On January 29, the agency’s General Manager, Kristen Garl, and Kathryn Ontiveros, EMP accounting specialist, presented WEP with their donation before a backdrop of photo stories of hundreds of just some of the women who have been helped via the programs offered at WEP since its inception in 2001.

“We are very proud to support Women’s Empowerment Sacramento,” said Garl.  “We have worked with a handful of nonprofit organizations over the last six years and they are all wonderful organizations.  But three years ago, as reviewed our goals for the campaign, our staff voted and WEP was selected hands-down by the majority of our team.”

The money will go to support WEP programs, which include a comprehensive, nine-week job-readiness education and emotional empowerment workshop for area homeless women.  That includes, resume preparation classes, mock interviewing, Internet job search training, budgeting, access to the agency’s dress for success clothing closet, transportation and even free, onsite childcare.

In addition, women enrolled in WEP programs are paired with an employment specialist, social worker and a volunteer career mentor to help them identify their skills and interests and realize their career goals.  Getting off the street and into a job, experts agree, is the sure-fire way for homeless individuals to create a pathway to a new life and end the cycle of poverty.

To date EMP has donated a total of $1,640 to WEP via its Pay It Forward campaign.

“We have an amazing relationship with Express Employment,” said WEP’s Development Manager, Holly Byrom.
“The support we receive each year is significant, and their mission is very closely aligned with our goal to help women get out of poverty and into a job, a home and a new life.”

More than 1,500 women with a combined total of some 3,500 children have benefited from the classes and services offered through WEP, 521 in 2017 alone.  Roughly 80 percent of those served, including the 157 in 2017, have successfully secured a job or enrolled in school or vocational training upon completion of their WEP program.

WEP was named Nonprofit of the Year by the Nonprofit Resource Center in 2009, one of the most prestigious honors a nonprofit can receive in the Sacramento region.  And, in 2014, WEP was chosen as the Organization of the Year at the inaugural Women’s Appreciation Awards by Congresswoman Doris Matsui, then Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assemblyman, Roger Dickinson.

WEP is a private organization and does not receive any federal funding.  Its social enterprise program generates roughly $54,000 in income annually.  Grants and family foundations account for roughly $400,000 toward its annual $1.1 million budget.  Remaining funds are generated through a combination of individual gifts, the United Way and Special Events.

“We know the pathway to breaking the cycle of homelessness is through employment,” said WEP Executive Director Lisa Culp, formerly on staff at Sacramento’s Loaves and Fishes.  “Our participants are 100 percent homeless women.  So we promise them that if they come in and complete our program, we will help them find a job, a home and a new life.”

It takes money to offer all of the services made available to local homeless women in need.  Programming costs for WEP account for $723,000 alone.  As such Garl said her agency’s support for WEP is ongoing.  As her team connects with existing and potential employers, schools and other entities, it networks for homeless women and WEP, encouraging employers to believe in second chances and supporting WEP’s social enterprise, the Get a Job Kit. 

The kit, which sells for $15.99, is a colorfully printed “tool box” for job seekers, which includes a comprehensive packet of job readiness guide sheets and resources.  It was created for WEP clients initially, but it is adding value to the community at large, especially wherever there are students or other job seekers trying to secure long-term employment.

“We are always pushing for support for Women’s Empowerment everywhere we can,” said Garl.  “We could not be more thrilled to be connected with WEP and its mission, and intend to keep supporting them for as long as we can, in as many ways possible.”