Baton Rouge career-seeking women gather for Women Empowering Women event

2 months 2 weeks 6 days ago Thursday, March 07 2024 Mar 7, 2024 March 07, 2024 6:00 PM March 07, 2024 in News

BATON ROUGE - Sometimes it's better to figure it out together than figuring it out alone.

United Way's Women Empowering Women event gathered Thursday as a space for women to learn job-readiness skills to enter into the workforce. Over 160 women registered for the event — which included cooking classes, interview tips, resume-building skills and donated blazers and work attire — and some women walked away with newfound confidence in themselves.

"I've come from dressing a little different compared to what I was used to when I was out doing bad things," said Roxie Zachary, an attendee at the Women Empowering Women event. "It's very exciting, it's a good feeling -- to know I can do better and I am better."

Zachary said she was one of the models at the event, where she was chosen to try on work clothes and dresses as attendees learned to dress for success. She was proud of the fact that she was chosen to model, and the confidence she spoke with — because of the event's instilling belief in her — was contagious.

Shelita Smith, founder and director of Blossom, found herself in a full-circle moment on Thursday as a Women Empowering Women speaker. Smith lost her mother to domestic violence and moved in with her grandmother, who raised the nonprofit director. She said her mother was a single mother who was income-restrained and needed help. Women Empowering Women is exactly the type of resource Smith wished she had long ago.

"It means a lot to empower them by telling my own personal story," Smith said. "To let them know never to give up hope, and to be inspired and keep pushing forward, and use these community resources as a way to help elevate you and to remove yourself from the situation that may be holding you back."

When women come together, a spurring on occurs. Women leave changed, motivated, encouraged to keep going.

"When we all come together, it helps us to understand (that) 'Hey, I'm not alone in this by myself,' and it's like 'If you can do it, I can do it,'" Smith said.

Among a sea of women stood out one powerful woman in the Baton Rouge community. Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome was encouraged to see so many women take the next step in getting help and advocating for their own careers. The mayor-president remembers when she first stepped into a career and the help she needed along the way.

"I didn't just jump into public service," a recollecting Broome said. "There were many people who helped me along the way. There was small beginnings for me. So, I love the fact that Women United, part of United Way, is taking this time dedicated to empowering other women in our community who might not always get touched ... And they're feeling empowered, and they're receiving resources and assistance that will take them to the next level."

By Zachary's side, exploring the multiple nonprofit booths at the event, was Antoinette Joseph. Joseph, a mother of two, found herself at Women Empowering Women because she wanted to create a better future for herself and her family. She said she hopes to one day be a nurse assistant. Zachary wishes to be in healthcare working with little kids.

"For any struggling parents out there that need help, resources, becoming a better mom, want to get off drugs, get off the streets ... the sky is the limit," an encouraged Joseph exclaimed. "Don't let your past define who you are. You can never stop growing or wanting more."

Joseph and Zachary walked away from the television camera, after sharing their stories, confident in and empowered by the fact that they are not alone in desiring a better future for their families, and they'll figure it out together.

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