Spotlight on WANDA

wanda-logo-colorThrough education, mentoring, and savings programs, WANDA (Women’s Achievement Network and Development Alliance) has become a critical foundation for success for many single moms in the Bay Area.  The stories of these single mothers working to better themselves and create a stable life for their children is inspiring. Here is one such story:

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“When I found WANDA, I was newly single. I literally had no job, no car, no education, no money, no house and two small kids (who I homeschooled) on top of it. When I was accept
d into the WANDA program, the first valuable lesson I learned was that my dreams were attainable and I could be successful in my own right. I loved being with a diverse group of mothers with different backgrounds, and while at different stages, were finding common ground in their goal setting and level of financial education. I love knowing that there is support for women who might not have pedigree or resources or education, and that despite of or even because of the struggles and hurdles they (we) face, there are strong believers who support women where they are and to become who they want to be. 

WANDA supports personal growth. What is more valuable and stabilizing in a society than supporting, educating, and uplifting mothers? The skills I learned through the Wcohort-7-copyANDA workshops have taught me to save money as well as manage money. Having a nest egg has given me a free mind, a “being in abundance,” and security even in my relatively modest savings to make bold business moves that are aligned with my values, beliefs and passions. Because of this safety net, I felt confident to invest in the simplest of tools to elevate my business and thus grow my business into what it is today. I used my money to buy a computer and business software. In the bay area, a culture of polished start-ups and business savvy clients, I was able to shift to professional billing, and also track my spending, earnings and profit margins on projects. The new laptop gave me the ability to interface with clients professionally. I was able to brand myself via website and business cards and create corporate identity using programs that were not compatible with my previous, very old and outdated computer. 

Another considerable purchase was the down payment on a work truck. When I started WANDA, I managed to scrape up $1,000 and work off the rest to get a 1999 ford explorer with 3 working doors, chipped paint, stripped down upholstery. On any given day I could be seen cruising down El Camino with a truck full of plants, trees, orchids, bags of soil, once a bag of manure that I am sure lingers to this day. Then I would go and pick up my kids from school with all these plants in the car, and there wouldn’t be any room, but we somehow found a way, to “be careful of the products!”…”just crouch down, don’t bend that branch, we are almost home!” were common phrases to the little ones. It was just what we had to do to get by. 

WANDA funds allowed for a down payment on my work truck. I bought a used truck with a cab large enough to accommodate for my children in the back seat while still allowing for trees and plants in the truck bed. The day I bought the truck I got a sod installation job. Normally I have to hire a guy with a truck to deliver large, miscellaneous items to my job site. Not this time! Instantly that truck made me over $300! I still remember my fist day in the truck picking my boy up from school. It was directly after I had worked with sod, soils, and wheel barrels…I picked up my boy and the cab was clean and he was so proud, he gave me a big high five. That means so much to me to show him how strong, resourceful and capable I am of providing for our family.

img_0721The message of success through saving, perseverance and dedication to a dream I believe in came through strong. I have no doubt that stories among WANDA alumnae would be similar in their gratitude and pride in saving and realization of goals. 

When we get to show our babies what success looks like we get to shine. We are superwomen and WANDA is helping illuminate us, through education, support and community. 

I have graduated from the WANDA program and have fully realized my savings goals. At this stage I am nine credits away from my Associates Degree in Health Sciences and poised to enter University next fall. I have used some of my WANDA savings to fund my education in my health services career path by adding yoga certification to my tool belt. 

Sometimes, when the day is so full of drudgery and I don’t know why I am so crazy and bent on my big dreams of a holistic healing center, I think about my journey over the last 4 years, how my community has supported me thus far. I have experienced miracles. I have shown my children through gritty, bloody, sweaty hard work, through determination, by not giving in, that we CAN make our wildest dreams our lives. We are valuable, our work matters, we are part of a bigger picture than ourselves. WANDA is part of that message.”

My deepest THANK YOU for the people that make WANDA what it is. 

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[This is an original post to Witchy Wonderful, the official blog of the Bella Vista League, the non-profit organization behind the annual Wonderful Witchy Women With A Cause luncheon and silent auction. This year’s event will be held on October 28th, 10:30am – 2:00pm, at the Fairmont Hotel, San Jose.]

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