AARP Eye Center
I started Unshakeable in 2016 to guide women in Clark County, Nevada, who are recovering from domestic violence, human trafficking, addiction and homelessness to return to the workforce and achieve financial independence. After completing rehabilitation programs, the women we serve struggle to launch a career that will provide sustainable employment and financial independence. Among our clients, 94 percent of the women earn less than $15,000 annually when they start the program.
The problem I’m trying to solve
Women coming out of these circumstances suffer from economic vulnerability, which is tied with emotional vulnerability. If these are not treated, these women are susceptible to going back to the circumstances they came from or falling for people who prey on them, whether it’s an abusive partner or a trafficker.
We never want a woman to have to choose between paying her electric bill and putting food on the table or buying diapers for her baby. It’s hard to get someone to think about going to work when they don’t have a bed to sleep in or they can’t read a job application because they need glasses but can’t afford them. We address the barriers, both emotional and physical, for example, that many of these women face, such as having gaps in their employment, criminal records, transportation problems or child care challenges.
The moment that sparked my passion
In 2009, I was working as a freelance producer developing pitch reels for reality TV shows to sell to networks. My husband had just passed away and I was struggling to find a reason to get dressed in the morning.
One day, I was sitting in the back of the Women in Need of Change specialty court in Las Vegas, which helps chronic women offenders get a second chance in life. The judge had asked women what they were willing to put into the program and what they were hoping to get out of it. They said things like, “I want to be able to look into the mirror and brush my teeth without feeling ashamed” and “I’m just grateful that I can wake up and recognize the same ceiling for more than one day.” After five or six of these, I was ugly crying because I realized that I and many of my girlfriends had experienced feelings of not being worthy or not belonging at some point in our lives. That’s when I realized there’s a gap between these women’s rescue, residency, recovery and the rest of it. I went in wanting to tell their story and left wanting to change it.