Women in Transition, Creativity through Adversity
Created in 1978 as a federally funded program called “Displaced Homemakers,” the Women in Transition (WIT) program has come a long way, as it has become essential in helping women find support resources in Cleveland. Adopted by Cuyahoga Community College in 2006, the program has the goal of aiding women who need help to move on with their lives without regard for their financial or educational statuses. Women in Transition program is funded by Cuyahoga Community College, Ohio Department of Higher Education, Carl D. Perkins Act, The Raymond, and Rita Foos Foundation, Crocker Park Foundation, People’s Bank Corp Foundation, S.K Wellman Foundation, and Nadine Feighman Wellness Fund.
According to an article on domestic violence by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2016), 35.6% of Ohio women experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner rape, or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes. In a study by the Status of Women in the States of the same year, women in Ohio earn 76 cents for every dollar a man earns. After the pandemic, these numbers have only worsened.
Debra Lewis-Curlee, a Student Advisor for the WIT program at the Metropolitan Campus, reveals to us that there is a myriad of women in different situations that participate in the program. “About half of our women have children. Most of them are survivors of domestic violence.” According to their statistics around 20% suffer or are recovering from addiction, about 20% have been incarcerated, and around 70% are unemployed. 20% lack a reliable internet connection, and even though around 20% are without a high school diploma or GED, there is an important percentage of women who have a post-graduate degree.
“We lost a lot of people at the beginning of the pandemic,” confirms Lewis-Curlee, “We had to get creative to overcome this situation.” As the pandemic has unfolded, they have slowly transformed a service that used to be uniquely on-campus into online and on-site community service. They have two types of sessions, a five-week on-site one where there are more hours invested weekly, and a six-week one that is completely online, where only two hours are invested weekly to accommodate the schedules of working women.
“We try to help women at their level…,” explains Lewis-Curlee, “…we give them top-level help, and the quality stays the same.” Getting creative to try to help the largest number of women is one of their priorities. After every session, they try to get feedback from the participants to always better their services to women. Talks of options to help women with inequality issues are being had at the moment. “We see every woman as being in transition at some point of her life” concludes Lewis-Curlee, thus reinforcing the message of aid to all women.
Currently, the WIT program is offering online classes through March to help build confidence and skills through personal development. It’s free and open to the public. More information can be found by visiting tri-c.edu/women-in-transition.
Cuyahoga Community College (2021). Women in Transition. Retrieved from https://www.tri-c.edu/women-in-transition/index.html.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2016). Domestic violence in Ohio. Retrieved from www.ncadv.org/files/Ohio.pdf
Status of Women in the States (2016). Ohio. Retrieved from https://statusofwomendata.org/explore-the-data/state-data/ohio/