Newspaper Archive of
Bellevue College
Bellevue, WA
October 23, 1986     Bellevue College
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October 23, 1986
 

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Page4 On Deck. Women's Center: it isn't just for women anymore by Kathy Maynard Advocate staff The peer counselors never know quite what to expect when they go to work each day at the College's Women Center. The scenario... It is 9 a.m. and the staff has not yet settled at their desks when a 23 year old student drops by. She has been referred by the student health center because marital problems are affecting her performance at school as well as at her job. About 11 Lm. a 47 year old woman calls to make an appointment to talk to a peer counselor. She has stayed home for over twenty years to raise her children but the last one has just moved out and she's going crazy. She just has to get a job. Then at 2:30 p.m. a man in his late thirties walks in off the street. He has recently remarried a feminist and wants to talk to someone who might be able to recommend a "reading list." He doesn't know how to relate to his new wife and thinks a woman's center might be a good place to start learning. The story... Because the Center is best known for its Displaced Homemakers program, which the U.S Department of Labor ranked third in the nation for helping widowed, divorced and separated homemakers become self- supporting, people are often not aware of all the other services they provide, said Sue Campbell, peer counselor at the Center. The Women's Center is a bridge between the community and the College said Mary Ellen Brune, director of women's programs. It offers campus and conlmunity clients many services, including workshops, semin- ars, employment information, resume consultations, legal referrals and discussion groups. It also serves as an informational and referral source for members of the commun- ity as well as students. Last year the Center had 5000 contacts, including 2300 students and 2700 non students. About 100 of those requests for assistance or information came from men. The staff consists of Brune, Catherine Taskett, assistant director of women's programs and coordinator of the Displaced Homemakers; Catherine Fisher, vocational specialist and instructor of the Displaced Homemakers Employment and Life Planning Class; and six peer counselors. Workshops and seminars are often conducted by professionals from the community. The peer counselor are paid with monies provided from the ASBCC. The Displaced Homemakers program is funded entirely from private grants, fundraisers and self- supported from fees collected. "We do a good job here and are rewarded by community support." Mary Ellen Brune Director of Women's Programs All fees collected from the workshops, seminars and referrals go into the Displaced Homemakers funcL Professionals from the communityvolunteer their time and receive no monetary coition for their services, '%Vere been doing a good job here," said Brune "and we've been rewarded with good community support.' Peer counselors are women' who have been trained to provide first step advising at the Center on a drop-in or appointment basis, free of charge. They are available to listen to people and make suggestions for their next step, whether that means signing up for the Displaced Homemakers class or other non-credit group, starting school or beginning a job search. "Most women who come here are still in the exploring stage," said Campbell. "We can discuss their interests and needs and talk about taking classes and juggling schedules because most of us have done it ourselves. It's good to hear that it's possible to go to school and still drive carpool." The Center is also available to help people not interested in returning to school. Anyone is welcome to consult the job board which has recently been enlarged because of the increasing number of employers who are calling with good entry level positions, said Campbell. The Center offer pre-employment assess- ments and resume consultations for $10. These services are open to men as well as women. '%Ve are not an employment agency but we can help people who may be stuck in their job search," Campbell said. "Maybe they need to reevaluate their resume if it is not working for them. Perhaps we have some resources they have not heard about. sometimes they just need a new place to contact to get out of a rut." The Women's Center is often the first place people contact in the crisis. The Center is seeing more domestic violence cases, which are immediately referred to the Eastside Domestic. Violence Program, Campbell said. "We've had people literally dropped off on the doorstep without resources," she said. "We've seen women who have been sleeping in their cars who need shelter." The Center is also asked to help in less urgent problems. They offer appointments with a legal: assistant for $5 and keep extensive referral lists of agencies and individuals, including lawyers and counselors. "The lists are helpful because these are people who we've checked out and feel good about recommending," Campbell said. The peer counselors experience a lot of job satisfaction, Campbell said, because there is always something new and challenging. "It is very fulfilling to be able to help people," Campbell saicL The outcome... Campbell makes an appointment for the 23 year old student to talk to the legal assistant to get more information about where she stands legally in her marriage. Then she refers her and her husband to a marriage counselor, hoping things won't have to go that far. After talking to the 47 year old woman who thinks she needs a job, Campbell realizes she isn't ready to make the com- mittments that a job would require. Because the woman has been rather isolated at home for so long, Campbell suggests she join the Center's self esteem group, "Celebrating Me" to explore her options. As for the new husband who wants to learn how to respond to his feminist wife, Campbell does suggest several books which might help him understand his wife. Given his effort to see her point of view (and the fact that neither of them has called since to request legal assistance), Campbell feels their future together looks good. limit Ill I FALt TOTAL / Mary Ellen Brune, director of wom- en's programs photo by Alex Washington Peer counselor, Shelley Funk discusses some of the services offered at the Women's Center.