SEEC workers are served lunch by local church youth while waiting for potential temporary employment.
Photo by Shirley Ruhe.
The Shirlington Employment and Education Center (SEEC) has initiated an Immigrant Women Empowerment Project to begin Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Arlington Free Clinic. The purpose is to assist immigrant women to successfully meet the challenges of living in America by providing information on job development and enhancing their skills.
SEEC was established in 2000 to link immigrants who are looking for work with employers seeking temporary day laborers. This program is sponsored by Arlington County and operates from a pavilion on S. Nelson Street. But these same services offered by SEEC have not been available to immigrant women who often face the challenges of transportation, a language barrier and day care for children.
The SEEC Immigrant Women Empowerment Program has been set up to address these challenges. It will offer nine months of free monthly training sessions at the Arlington Free Clinic. The sessions will be offered by experts on topics such as personal finance, legal rights, promoting wellness and how to start a business. The day-long curricula includes a free lunch followed by individualized afternoon sessions for the women on marketing their own business or service.
This new program is an outgrowth of a Green Housecleaning Program, also sponsored by SEEC, to teach immigrant women the skills necessary to use green products in their housecleaning jobs. Andres Tobar, executive director of SEEC, says this will give the women a leg up on the competition while benefitting their own health as well as the homes they serve. This is a five-week course taught by Sandra Short who runs a local housecleaning business. It began in May 2012 and has trained approximately 240 women in 14 classes. The program has been supported by donations from local churches and civic groups.
Tobar explains that although the basic SEEC program is funded by a county grant, the new Immigrant Empowerment Program, like the Green Housecleaning program, will be entirely funded through donations. He says,"SEEC is holding a fundraiser Oct. 16 at the Barcroft Community House, and funds raised will all go to support this program."