At some point in our lives we all need a “new beginning or fresh start.” However, those facing life’s biggest challenges probably need that fresh start the most. We are blessed with organizations such as Fresh Start Women’s Foundation. Their founders saw a need and filled it, and the community followed with their support by contributing financial help, volunteer instructors, and resources.
Empowering women to transform their lives through education and engagement became the mission for Fresh Start Women’s Foundation. They follow through with their mission by offering free or low cost programs and services in the areas of economic self-sufficiency, education, and personal development. These opportunities to learn, grown and achieve are available Monday through Saturday at their 1130 East McDowell Road, Phoenix, AZ location beginning at 9:00 a.m.
More than 20 years ago, two sisters Pat Petznick and Beverly Stewart founded Fresh Start Women’s Foundation. Even as young teens, Pat and Beverly wanted to help women, who like their grandmother, suddenly became the sole support of their families. Over the years, the Arizona natives became ardent community activists on behalf of women.
In 1992, Pat and Beverly were in a position to personally and professionally reach out to women in need and initially offered a day of pampering each month at the salon they co-owned, inviting 20 women from shelters and other social service agencies to boost their confidence and self-esteem. The initiative grew to include an amazing agenda of self-improvement and career enhancing classes, seminars, workshops, and resources which are outlined in detail in their catalog (available online and in hard copy versions).
The Jewell McFarland Lewis Fresh Start Women’s Resource Center’s unique empowerment model offers a variety of programs and services designed to holistically improve the lives of women in our community. Today, Fresh Start continues to serve thousands of women each year.
During my years in the Chicago and Rockford, Illinois markets, I actively donated my time and classes to assist in the personal and professional development of those in need with first-impression and self-improvement classes to organizations such as the YMCA’s Lunch ‘n Learn series, the YMCA’s management prep series, Lutheran Social Services’ classes for their leadership team, and Catholic Church offerings for those in transition.
Moving to the Phoenix market in 2008, I continued this path with Dress for Success, Career Connectors , and eventually learned of Fresh Beginnings Women’s Foundation at a Sisterhood of Powerful Women luncheon and at a National Bank of Arizona “Wine, Women, and Wardrobe” reception. I enthusiastically sought them out to learn more, and I was sold!
My small group classes at Fresh Start include the following
- Steps to Mingling and Networking Easily and Effectively
- The Power of You — from First Impression to Interaction
- Dining Etiquette for the Holidays
In the fall of 2015 I will join their mentoring team and in 2016 I will join their Inspired Leadership Series. The Inspired Leadership series is a series of seminars designed help women who possess a strong interest in personal achievement, the drive to advance their careers, and an interest in promoting leadership development. I am very proud and honored to be a part of their instructor-led classes and large group seminars.
An Overview of Fresh Start’s Services and Programs
A wide range of personal and professional development services are offered at the Jewell McFarland Lewis Fresh Start Women’s Resource Center in downtown Phoenix, Fresh Start’s East Valley location inside the Goodwill Career Center in Mesa, and online at freshstartwomen.org. These classes and seminars are led by career professionals who donate their time.
Career: Career coaches work one-on-one with clients to help them develop a career and education plan. In addition, through a partnership with Goodwill of Central Arizona, clients can access job placement and resume-development services.
Child Watch: Child care is often a barrier to accessing higher education and skills, but Fresh Start’s Child Watch center is able to provide child care services on-site for women who attend classes or utilize the center’s services.
Education: A variety of workshops and programs taught by leading professionals offer concrete, practical information. Scholarships are also available through the E. Jean Goulet Scholarship, established to help fund educational endeavors for clients demonstrating financial need.
Family Law Support: Services include legal information sessions, workshops, and seminars, all presented by legal professionals. Certified legal document preparers are available to provide document preparation and review family court documents at a significantly reduced fee.
Mentoring: Caring support and direction are available from successful women in the community. These volunteers guide and encourage other women to reach their educational and career goals during a 12- 18 month relationship when clients strive to achieve three to five SMART goals.
Online Resource Center: Women can access Fresh Start courses anytime, anywhere, through freshstartwomen.org. After completing an assessment, courses are recommended to help women achieve their goals.
Personal Development: Fresh Start’s personal development services help women create positive self-esteem and a healthy self-image through a variety of workshops focusing on emotional, mental and physical well-being.
Meredith Burrows-Shake and Veronica Shake attended Global Protocol’s SME Train-the-Trainer course this past July 2015. Once I learned how similar their objectives and goals for the training matched Fresh Start’s mission, I immediately contacted Mandy at Fresh Start and requested a tour to be added to their Global Protocol training itinerary. Meredith and Veronica’s passion is to help women and youth overcome trauma and build resilience. Their Fresh Start tour and Global Protocol training experiences offered new ideas and will serve as a great model on which to build skills that are not only applicable to presenting oneself professionally, but are important life skills. These skills will serve as an important foundation for their Washington DC initiative.
Want to know more about Fresh Start?
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