Last month, Community Action Marin hosted a graduation ceremony and celebration for the cohort of women that participated in the Accelerating Pathways to Thrive for Marin Women pilot program that was funded through the California Workforce Accelerator Fund.
The 12-month program was designed to assist 16 women who were experiencing homelessness or precariously housed with comprehensive services across education and training, small business advising, career counseling, stabilization and basic needs, health and wellness (including mental health support) and financial coaching. The goal was for each woman to achieve financial, career, and health and wellness success, leading to permanent housing, employment at a livable wage and thriving in the community.
Throughout the year-long program, each participant received customized services focused on their strengths to support their overall well-being, education and training and employment goals on their journey towards self-sufficiency and prosperity. The program’s success in achieving its’ goals was based on the collaboration of several organizations including; Community Action Marin, Ritter Center, Marin City Community Development Corporation, Marin Small Business Development Center, County of Marin Health and Human Services, College of Marin, and Career Point Marin.
At the start of the Program Heather Bettini, Director of Economic Opportunity and Workforce Development, Community Action Marin expressed her expectations and goals for the participants in the Program. She said:
“Accelerating Pathways to Thrive is a unique program because it places participants at the center of a service delivery system that accounts for evolving needs and external factors that present barriers to success. These women will work with a success team comprised of staff from multiple agencies to create wellness, stability, and education/career plans so they have clarity on what success will look like and the steps needed to get there. Throughout the 12 months, women will also receive support from the Workforce Manager (Maricruz Assefnia, Community Action Marin) who will act as an advocate and liaison among all participating agencies to ensure we offer an exceptional experience that feels inclusive, respectful, and upifting. It is an honor to learn with and walk alongside this group of incredibly powerful, resilient women who have so much to give.”
The successes and accomplishments of each Program participant was evident at the graduation ceremony.
The event was hosted by Maricruz Assefniz, Workforce Manager, Community Action Marin. Maricruz congratulated the women on their outstanding success and thanked them for all their hard work and for allowing her to be part of their story.
Chandra Alexandre, CEO, Community Action Marin was in attendance to congratulate and praise the women for their dedication and success in the Program. She also recognized and thanked Maricruz for her diligence and personal commitment during the Program.
“What incredible women! This celebration marks the culmination of a journey over the past year in partnership with our agency. I am excited by all these remarkable individuals have accomplished. To know they have strengthened and grown in alignment with their dreams, and that we will continue to walk forward together as community into the future, makes me proud,” said Chandra Alexandre, CEO, Community Action Marin.
During the ceremony each woman received a thank you gift and a Graduation Certificate for successful completion of the Program. They each stood to receive their graduation certificate and talked about their journey from the start of the Program to how they’ve grown and where they are today at the end of the Program.
The atmosphere at the graduation was celebratory, joyful and filled with a sense of self-confidence, but also included sadness that the Program had come to an end. Each woman’s story of her personal journey over the past year was heart-felt and emotional. They also all expressed their deepest gratitude to Maricruz for the loving support, guidance and personal attention she gave to them individually for the duration of the Program. Some of the graduates’ comments included:
“This is a season for us to move forward.”
“I’m so grateful to Maricruz.”
“I’m now a full-time student.”
“You (Maricruz) were like an angel.”
“I am so grateful for the Program and everyone in the Program.”
“You (Maricruz) went above and beyond your job.”
“I am so grateful for the recognition and support I received.”
The conclusion of the ceremony included assurances from Maricruz and Chandra that Community Action Marin continues to be available to each woman for ongoing support and participation in the various programs and services. “Community Action Marin is still here for you and to work for you. Lean on our services.”
The ceremony ended with warm goodbyes and promises to stay in touch with each other. Commitments that will surely be carried forward.