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click to enlarge Trudy Strewler Hodges: helping women find hope. - COURTESY THE WOMEN'S RESOURCE AGENCY
  • Courtesy The Women's Resource Agency
  • Trudy Strewler Hodges: helping women find hope.

According to data provided by the Women's Foundation of Colorado, 36.5 percent of households headed by single mothers under 18 in the state live in poverty, and about 290,000 women in Colorado earn a minimum wage of just over $19,000 annually.

The Colorado Springs area specifically proves no exception when it comes to women in poverty, which is partly why the Women's Resource Agency exists, with more than 40 years of service to the community. The nonprofit organization combats poverty, homelessness and joblessness experienced by local women by providing them with resources to succeed.

Interim Executive Director Trudy Strewler Hodges says WRA aims "not only to help women find employment, but to also become self-sufficient, healthy and to find hope."

To accomplish that goal, the WRA offers several resources, such as personal and professional development programs that include workshops as well as individual coaching. The organization also helps women with networking, communication skills, resumé tips, budgeting and education opportunities. WRA's Suit-Up for Success program provides women who are preparing for job interviews with an outfit to wear to their interview at no cost. Eight out of 10 women who participate in the Suit-Up for Success program have a job within one month, the organization says, and most women who turn to the WRA for help find jobs within six months, they say.

The Women's Resource Agency, located in The Citadel mall, also hosts a leadership and healthy-relationship program called InterCept, which provides teen girls at Harrison and Mitchell high schools with information and resources on topics such as depression, self-harm, suicide, substance abuse, intimate partner violence, domestic violence, nutrition and overall wellness. Add to that InterCept Too, another WRA intervention program designed for girls in the juvenile justice system. It meets sentencing requirements for both the 4th Judicial District Probation and Diversion Programs as well as Municipal Teen Court.

A young woman named Ocean was referred to InterCept Too by a judge after being charged with assault. Ocean says that she struggled with anger, which the WRA helped her learn to manage, in addition to learning how to build and maintain healthy relationships. She describes her experience with the nonprofit as amazing.

"They helped me with a lot of things and made me an overall better person," she says, adding that she felt like she was learning and growing so much with WRA's help that she has continued to go to meetings even after completing the classes she was required to attend. And since exiting InterCept Too, she has been attending her classes at school, and getting better working with anger that may arise, she says.

Ocean feels like she can depend on the WRA, whether she needs advice or tutoring in her studies, or encouragement and guidance. That's because of the confidentiality their counselors ensure, and trust they build with clients like Ocean. Visit wrainc.org for more.

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