‘I Got It When I Needed It the Most’

The Giving Together women’s giving circle recently visited our Community Vision site to hear the stories of women who will be helped, thanks to a generous grant from the group. The Giving Together volunteers not only listened to the stories, but they took the time to provide coaching and interview preparation sessions for the women seeking employment.

The Giving Together scholarships will enable these women to pursue additional training so they can become certified to help them find better jobs, including pharmacy technicians, nursing assistants and Microsoft Office specialists. These programs can help job-seekers to gain steady employment with career growth potential, says Carolyn Johnson, Interfaith Works vocational services program director.

Sara (not her real name) came to the Interfaith Works vocational program after experiencing homelessness due to a family conflict. “We spent some very bad nights outside,” she said, but eventually found housing. Emigrants from Pakistan, she and her spouse are trained medical professionals, but fell on hard times because of the financial challenges of achieving certification in the U.S.

Sara was discouraged. But she persevered, going through our vocational program and discovering she has a passion for working with children. Thanks to a scholarship through the Giving Together grant, she is pursuing training and certification in early childhood education. “Thank you for your generosity,” she told the Giving Together members. “I got it when I needed it the most.”

Valerie, a resident of the Interfaith Works emergency women’s shelter in Rockville, will be able to get recertified as an x-ray technician, thanks to the scholarship. Marjorie, who has not worked in a number of years, is currently homeless. Having worked as an executive assistant in the legal world, she plans to take a project management course with the scholarship to open up more opportunities. Karen, another resident of our women’s shelter, is an experienced project coordinator and also is pursuing a project management certificate, thanks to Giving Together.

Those getting scholarships are asked to “pay it forward” by paying back a portion once they have secured employment, so the program is sustainable and can help more women.

After listening to the women’s stories and aspirations, Giving Together’s Jeanne Spivak said, “We’ve made a wonderful investment.”


Volunteers from Giving Together, a giving circle, listened to the stories of vocational program clients and participated in mock job interviews.

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