On an unusually sunny day a few weeks ago I walked into The Center for Women (CFW) on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill. I’d heard about the organization secondhand on Facebook and was honestly intrigued by the name. Was this an Ob-gyn office? Was it a holistic wellness center? Was it a social service agency? After spending about an hour with program administrators, I was absolutely convinced that every Pittsburgh mother should know about CFW. In fact, I honestly haven’t been this inspired by a Pittsburgh organization in a very long time.
So…what is CFW? It’s a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting women in “transition.” At the Center, the meaning of “transition” is broad. It can refer to any woman undergoing a significant life change including a separation or divorce, the death of a loved one, a job loss, returning to the workforce after raising children or many other situations, i.e. ME as my children get close to school age (and probably many of you out there too). Although CFW certainly draws its clients from all walks of life, many are highly-educated, middle-class women facing situations they simply didn’t expect.
CFW provides its services to these women free of charge. And their offerings are absolutely fantastic in the most practical way possible. From financial and legal workshops to networking nights to mentoring and internship programs, the Center helps women adjust to whatever new situation comes their way. And here are five reasons why I think every Pittsburgh mother should know about The Center for Women:
1. Their mentoring program
CFW offers a 6 to 12-month free mentoring program for women. Participants are carefully matched with mentors who can provide the particular type of support they need. Perhaps you are going through a divorce or death and feel like your world is falling apart. CFW will match you with a mentor who has successfully navigated this path and can guide you along your own. Perhaps you are interested in pursuing a different career goal and would like to connect with a woman in this field. The Center will find the perfect woman to help you.
CFW’s mentors include nonprofit managers, licensed counselors and life coaches, experienced lawyers, child development specialists, entrepreneurs, writers, CEO’s, healthcare directors, etc. Many are fellow mothers. Some are grandmothers. All are committed to supporting other women as they transition to a new place in their life.
2. Their internship program
The Center for Women also offers a free internship program for women. Participants are paired with local organizations or businesses that match their career aspirations. Whether you are transitioning back into the workforce after raising children, interested in changing careers or recently lost a job, The Center for Women can help get you back on your feet professionally. Added bonus: many of the women who have completed their internships have gone on to find jobs in the field.
Past internship topics have included real estate, social media, editorial, social work, environmental sustainability, accounting, business research, grant writing and many more. Interns have worked at a variety of organizations/businesses in the city including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pop City Media, Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, Lawrenceville United and more. Whatever your career goal, the Center is committed to finding the right internship for you.
3. Their workshops
The Center for Women offers a wide variety of free workshops designed to help women become more self-sufficient. From financial workshops such as Tax Prep 101, Ask the Financial Planner and Budgeting 101 to family life workshops like Co-Parenting, Dealing with Negative People and The Power of Positive Thinking to returning to the workforce workshops like Interviewing 101, Cover Letters and Career Coaching, the Center can help you learn new skills that are directly applicable to your situation. Check out their calendar for upcoming workshops.
4. Their networking opportunities
CFW understands the need for networking among women, especially as we enter a new field or transition back into the workplace. Not only does the Center offer an Art of Networking workshop, it also offers free, no-pressure networking nights to practice with women professionals.
5. Their volunteer opportunities
Since CFW offers its services free of charge, it relies heavily on volunteer involvement. And what a noble cause! Volunteering your time and expertise to mentor, lead an internship or give a workshop is a wonderful way to support another Pittsburgh woman who needs you. And I was reassured that you don’t need to be a high-level CEO to find a place as a volunteer at CFW. Maybe you’re an expert co-parenter or a fabulous time-manager. There is bound to be a woman in Pittsburgh who can benefit from your expertise!
6. Their passion
I just wanted to add this last piece. From the moment that I walked into CFW, it was obvious to me that it’s fueled by passion–women who are intensely committed to helping other women succeed. And this is so important! I think there is no substitute for a strong female advocate in our lives. We understand and NEED one another.
I firmly believe there is a place for EVERY woman at CFW. If your life is trekking along right on track, you could volunteer as a mentor. If you are unsatisfied with your current job situation and could use a change, try out an internship. Even if you can’t make time now, please keep The Center for Women in the back of your mind. I have a sneaking suspicion that we will ALL need it at some point in our lives.
Want to stay connected to The Center for Women? Follow along on Facebook and Twitter.© Copyright 2015 Nadine Champsi, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog
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