Her Recession: YWCA program empowers women, prepares them with job skills

SPOKANE, Wash.– A YWCA program is helping women build the skills and confidence they need to secure jobs during the pandemic.

Victoria Eby-Bounds is a full time mom and a part time photographer. She and Cody Salter have both been on the job hunt to make sure they can support their young son Jeremiah. But, it’s a tough time to look for jobs as the pandemic has forced record job loss and restrictions on most industries.

“Do I choose to stay home and make sure my son is safe or do I go work at a fast food restaurant and it’s like, but I also have all this experience,” Eby-Bounds said. “So it kind of sucks.”

Eby-Bounds turned to the YWCA for help. That’s exactly what she found through the Women to Work program. It is designed to remove or reduce employment barriers. One way to do that is through mentorship.

Kate Johnston is one of the YWCA opportunity mentors for women. Before the pandemic, she’d meet with clients regularly in-person. Now she holds those meetings virtually, working with them on goal-setting and other life skills.

Johnston knows how valuable YWCA mentorship can be. Not long ago, she was receiving the support she now offers.

“Just to have someone to care about your goals in life and to walk with you and know what your goal is, what your timeline is and just to check in with you, there’s such power in that,” Johnston said.

That connection is something Eby-Bounds said she felt right away through the Women to Work program.

“She built a connection with us and asked me how I was doing, how was Jeremiah,” Eby-Bounds said.

Before COVID-19, the Women to Work program offered clients access to a computer lab and free clothing boutique so they had professional attire for interviews. While those resources are temporarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, staff are still hard at work supporting women and their families.

According to the YWCA, to apply, clients must:

  • be actively looking for work
  • be receiving DSHS (Department of Social and Health Services) food benefits or EBT Card funds
  • not be currently receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).

Even though the Women to Work program is for women, Eby-Bounds’ mentor was able to help connect Salter with a job training program.

“Honestly, it was a great opportunity. It really helped out a lot for a lot of things,” Salter said.

While Salter and Eby-Bounds navigate their next steps, they know they’re not alone, thanks to the YWCA.

“Don’t give up. There is a lot of places out there that can help you,” Eby-Bounds said.

The YWCA said people can call the program manager at 789-9299 or email women2work@ywcaspokane.org to learn more about this program.

RELATED: Her Recession: Spokane nurse reflects on balancing her family and career during COVID-19 crisis