On June 25, the Women’s Employment Resources Corporation (WERC), located at 3356 Adeline St., turned 22 years old. With a very small budget, this agency has consistently and successfully served and placed into jobs, thousands of single parent families, individuals (male and female), and youth from the Berkeley community. With an emphasis on South Berkeley, where it has operated since 1989, it is a beacon of light for the most oppressed members of our beautiful city.
What sets this agency apart from others is its unique ability to reach out, assess, and develop the essence of each and every client’s untapped skills and potential. Yet, it’s not just clients who are helped, but other agencies with whom WERC interacts. As a client, and present volunteer employee of this agency I have personally witnessed many success stories. These stories include single mothers going from welfare to entering the workforce for the first time, as well as homeless and jobless people finding jobs and housing. I myself, have first-hand experience with WERC’s services, and believe me, I represent only one of thousands of others who can verify how this agency operates. My family found ourselves homeless, me without a job, but with the assistance of WERC and the true devotion of its staff and its director, Carole Brown, a tenacious graduate of UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare, my family and I were able to find employment and housing. Frankly, I don’t know where I would be today if it were not for this agency. The public needs to know that my story only echoes those stories I’ve heard with my own ears from many, many other clients of the agency. If gainful employment is a solution to our community’s crime and dysfunctioning, why is it that we are under threat of losing an agency that tackles these problems?
Past support from the City of Berkeley is no longer forthcoming and several of the agency’s employees are no longer receiving pay checks, but are still working on a volunteer basis with the faith that funding will return. The agency is operating on funds from the community, board members and the director’s own money. This is not the first time that the agency has faced major budget cuts. As you can imagine, the past 22 years have been eventful with many cuts, yet there has always been one constant i.e., to keep the doors open and serve the community. However, without funds, the agency is in danger of folding. The impact of this vital agency closing will be detrimental to many families and individuals in the entire Berkeley community. Although I am speaking as an individual, I only represent one voice amongst thousands who have benefited from WERC today, and in past years. Any one in the community is welcome to come and visit WERC to see first hand how we benefit the community.
Any donations made to this agency would be a tax write off and would greatly benefit our community.
Phil McKinney is a volunteer at the Women’s Employment Resources Corporation.