Women's employment initiative

Looking in a mirror on the left is the Women for Women Program Developer Cheri Gage and JaNell Clark, St. Andrew's Administrator. Clark assists gage in support with the program. 

Women in the south Wichita and Derby areas who are seeking employment or are ready for a job change have a new resource through Women For Women, a free program sponsored by St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

Developed by church member Cheri Gage, the six-week program provides guidance in evaluating skills and developing goals, building a résumé, applying for jobs, interviewing, appearance coaching, and how to keep a job.

After retirement from a management company, Gage was volunteering for Episcopal Social Services’ employment program in Wichita and thought Derby might benefit from a similar program.

“I started planning in January and ran the idea by [St. Andrew’s priest] Father Mike [Loyd],” Gage said. “He was very supportive, and we started the first six-week class in April.”

Before starting the first class, Gage and Father Mike approached Circles Derby, part of a national program that helps people move out of poverty and enrolled four women. One of the participants was able to get two jobs in another town and moved before the end of the six weeks.

Although the current class members are all part of Circles Derby, Gage and Father Mike are looking at other ways to reach out to women who may be interested in all or parts of the six-week program.

“We don’t require six weeks of class,” Gage explained. “If a woman came to us and, for example, needed help with a résumé, or wanted some interview or appearance coaching, we can do that.

“We hope to be able to do an individual, in-depth personal interview with each woman who comes to us, determine her needs and go from there,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of guidelines yet, so we’re just interested in who we can help.”

Although in its infancy, Gage notes that there have already been “wonderful partnerships” established in the community.

“Woodlawn United Methodist Church Thrift Store (at 103 Baltimore) has agreed to outfit our women, and when they graduate Cindy Kemp at Lavender and Love, a salon (at 1259 N. Rainbow Circle), will be supplying them with discounted hair styles,” Gage said.

“The church [St. Andrew’s] has been generous in providing support for this project,” she added, citing the help she receives from parish administrator JaNell Clark and the “moral and spiritual support from Father Mike.”

Although Gage currently leads the program by herself, she said church member volunteers are ready to “move into it as it gets developed. We’ll accept any volunteer help that’s offered – we’re not limiting it to church members,” she emphasized.

Going forward Gage would like to work with more employers in Derby.

“We have a lot of good-sized employers, and I know from my experience as an employer that finding good employees is primary to running a good business,” she said.

“I feel like we can help both sides – employers in the area and women seeking good employment. It’s a win-win situation.”

Women interested in the program may contact St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church by phone at 316-788-2595 or email at saintandrewsderby@gmail.com.

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