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Women Work will continue offering training program after shutting down one site

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia Women Work announced Tuesday that after months of public pleas and grant writing, they will again offer the Step Up for Women Construction Pre-Apprenticeship training, but only at two of their three sites.

The North Central (Morgantown) location and the Kanawha Valley (Charleston) location are currently recruiting participants and will offer the course in March 2016. On the status of the third Martinsburg site, Executive Director Janis Gunel said,  “This past fall, in addition to our routine grant writing, we focused on identifying and approaching state agencies and community and technical colleges that hold and distribute training dollars. With the help of our supporters, we attempted to find workable, sustainable pathways to those funding sources. While at this point it is disappointing to say that we have not been successful, we can also say that we have not given up.”

The Step Up for Women program has helped hundreds of local women enter careers in construction that pay wages high enough to support a family.
“What’s great about our Step Up program is that it resonates with many political stances on our public welfare system” Kristina Szczyrbak, the Deputy Director of the nonprofit, said.  “This program both helps families that are experiencing poverty while also offering a fast solution to needing government assistance. If we want families off of assistance and paying taxes, we must offer viable solutions. Step Up is that solution. This program helps families help themselves.”

Many elected officials have come forward to lend their support to saving the Step Up program. Among them are U.S. Senator Manchin and Congressman McKinley as well as WV Delegate Walters who met with Women Work staff and took action to support their funding requests from in-state entities. Several representatives also attended events hosted by the organization including Senators Beach, Leonhardt and Gaunch as well as Delegates Fleischauer and Statler.  Many of the aforementioned, in addition to Delegates Guthrie and Puskin, were present at meetings convened in attempts to request funding.

Along with elected officials, advocates from the construction industry stepped forward as well. Attending funding request meetings and events hosted by the organization were apprenticeship representatives Steve Perdue of the Sheetmetal Workers LU33, Brett Matthews of the Plumbers and Pipefitter LU 625, Steve White of the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation, and Chad Oleska of the Plumbers and Pipefitters LU 152 as well as the State Director of the DOL Office of Apprenticeship, Ken Milnes.

“We realize that the elected officials and apprenticeship reps have been a tremendous help by attending meetings, making phone calls on our behalf and just showing their support for the nonprofit in any way that they can,” Gunel said. “They’ve helped us to stay motivated and not give up on the work we do and keep pushing forward.”

ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA WOMEN WORK, INC.

West Virginia Women Work is a nonprofit organization with headquarters in Morgantown. There are presently two training sites located in Morgantown and Charleston, WV. Their Step Up for Women Construction Pre-Apprenticeship program boasts a minimum 80% job placement rate with new graduates earning a minimum of $3 more per hour than a traditional job. In past years, the organization has served nearly a thousand local women. West Virginia Women Work encourages anyone interested in getting involved or learning more to visit their website www.wvwomenwork.org.

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