Who are WOW students?

On Halloween night, children across the Denver Metro area take to the streets for trick-or-treating. Going from door to door, they briefly transform from children into a plethora of super heroes, monsters, ghouls, fictional characters, and celebrities.

Our Work Options for Women students make a tremendous amount of costume changes. In our kitchen, cafeteria and career center, they are learning to take on new roles in the professional world that will empower them to work toward economic independence and achieve goals they may have thought impossible.

Who are our students at Work Options for Women?

They are diligent learners in the kitchen, trying to soak in as much as they can. They are on their feet seven hours a day and might have to lift anywhere up to 50 pounds. They undergo daily, vigorous training in our WOW Café, honing the skills they are gaining in our program. They are trying to stay above water, but they have the constant support of our staff who can counsel them and guide them to the various resources they need.

WOW students are people determined to make a change in their lives for the better. They will become prepared for work in a fast-paced environment, whether that’s for a restaurant or in health care food service or hospitality food service.

They return to their families after a long day in training. There, they are single mothers, grandmothers and daughters. They also may work part-time to make ends meet.

In 2012, 154 students enrolled in our program. One out of three had not completed high school or obtained a GED. 41% received TANF benefits, and 46% were single mothers. One out of four students were homeless. The average age of our students was 34.

Students come from a diverse range of backgrounds — they are Hispanic, Black, Native American, Caucasian and Asian. Some WOW students are men. Some students just want a second chance because of legal issues or problems with substance abuse. Some students have been victims of domestic violence. Some are women who have been out of the workforce or have never worked.

But they are all trying to make a difference in their lives and the lives of their families.

Currently, 64% of Colorado’s homeless are people in families with children. WOW specifically targets hard-to-employ individuals who face multiple barriers to employment and helps them find employment in the food service industry.