Berman: Working to give mothers a Fresh Start - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Berman: Working to give mothers a Fresh Start

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Susan Berman is President and CEO of Phoenix-based Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, dedicated to empowering women to help themselves. The nonprofit also operates East Valley Fresh Start Women’s Foundation located at Mesa’s East Valley Institute of Technology.

Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 3:10 pm | Updated: 2:35 pm, Wed May 9, 2012.

Mother’s Day is an important time of year at Fresh Start Women’s Foundation. We value moms in the highest regard and know they need to be taken care of. We believe that if you support the mom — with counseling, career services, legal assistance, higher education — you support not only that woman, but her family as well. If we can keep our moms confident, positive, and moving forward in their lives, their entire family will be impacted in a positive way.

The women we see come through the doors at the Jewell McFarland Lewis Women’s Resource Center are from all walks of life. But they all have a common goal — to better their lives and the lives of their families.

There are sad stories — like Nancy who fled Nevada to come to Arizona with $50 and a bus ticket out of state. She had a gun held to her head when she was six months pregnant and knew she had to get out for her safety and the safety of her child. She found placement at a local shelter and began coming to Fresh Start for career services. Four years later, she now has a steady job and is entered into Fresh Start’s mentoring program.

There are the women like Denai — so strong and brave. She leaves her job at McDonald’s every day to pick up her 3-year-old from school. They take the bus to Fresh Start and she is happy knowing she can leave her son at Fresh Start’s Child Watch while she sees her counselor. Denai is now taking classes at night so she can start the path to a new career, something meaningful to her that will help her family.

There is Carolina, who came to Fresh Start and was so moved by what she was learning, that she would document everything so that she could go home and share the information with her husband and family. She and her family are doing great and just opened their own business.

And then there are the women you wouldn’t expect, like Coleen. She had a home in Arcadia and the life of her dreams, but it all shattered around her when she went through a bitter divorce. She came to Fresh Start three days a week and took everything from finance classes to self-confidence seminars. Coleen now has her own business and employs sales representatives across the country.

These women make me so proud. They needed assistance in their life and they came for help. So many times, women feel that they need to do it on their own and they live a life of depression and fear. Think of how that affects their family — and the community surrounding them.

Mothers are the backbone of our society and we need to take care of them. Fresh Start is here for any woman, regardless of economic background, whatever her need. If we can improve the lives of the moms who care for so many around them, we will be making great strides in bettering our community.

To learn more about Fresh Start, visit phoenix.wehelpwomen.com. Fresh Start is currently in the middle of a two-month matching campaign where donations are matched dollar-for-dollar.

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