You, the Viewers
Founded in1987 by college professor Jane Stephenson, The New Opportunity School for Women gives Appalachian women the opportunity to reach goals they never thought were possible.
The majority of women who come to the program are under-educated and have a family income of less than $10,000 a year. "They want to get off of welfare. They want to have a job. They want to be independent. They do not like having to take handouts," explains Jane.
Women leave their families for three weeks of intensive courses. They not only learn writing, math, computers and job skills, but more importantly, they learn how to find their dreams and make them come true. The school offers two, and sometimes three, sessions a year, each for fourteen women. Women come to the program free of charge. There is special consideration given to single mothers who need to pay for childcare for their children or grandchildren while they are away.
"We feel it's so important for these women to learn just how much they have to offer the world and believe in themselves," says Jane.
Out in the World
One of the most empowering aspects of the school is the exposure it gives these women to the exciting world around them. The internship program allows women to spend a few hours each day working with local businesses. The weekends consist of cultural field trips to places such as museums and symphonies.
Finally, the women are offered a makeover from local beauticians. They also receive a gently used business suit to help them look the part for the next stage in their lives.
At the end of three weeks, the women's families join them for graduation. "This has been one of the most powerful experiences in my whole life. The people I've met, the places they took me…it's just overwhelming. I don't have to be ashamed any more. I can make it now, " says Libby, a graduate.
To Jane, the best success is for these women is to go out into the world and conquer some small piece of it; for each of the graduates to inspire her children or children's children to make a difference.
See what's on the New Opportunity School for Women's wish list!
For more information, please contact:
New Opportunity School for Women, Inc.
204 Chestnut Street
Berea, KY 40403