Many teenage girls dream about their futures but lack the feelings of empowerment and goal-making skills to achieve their dreams. Now, low-income girls who live at Intercommunity Mercy Housing properties are learning how to make smart decisions about their future careers, thanks to Deborah Reber, a Seattle-based, nationally recognized expert in working with girls and young women.
Reber, author of “In Their Shoes: Extraordinary Women Describe Their Amazing Careers,” has been bringing her workshops to residents at Intercommunity Mercy Housing properties in the Seattle-Tacoma area since November. Intercommunity Mercy Housing is a nonprofit affordable housing organization with 44 properties in Washington that are home to more than 4,000 residents, including about 1,700 children.
“I believe that with the right insight, inspiration and information, girls and women can be empowered to successfully pursue their career dreams,” Reber said. “I hope to show girls that no career journey looks the same, and that it’s never early to start dreaming big when it comes to creating the life you want – no matter what your economic background.”
Reber has authored and co-authored several books for teens, including her most recent book on stress reduction, “Chill,” which she also presents to Intercommunity Mercy Housing communities. She also writes a blog for teenage girls called Smart Girls Know (www.smartgirlsknow.com), offering advice, insight, career tips and news.
Through Reber’s “In Their Shoes” workshop, she inspires teenage girls to realize their dreams, while giving them the tools they need to set goals, network and interview. The workshop is based on Reber’s book that profiles 50 women, including U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, actress Maura Tierney and U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Leanne Lusk. So far, Reber has given the workshop to about 75 children and parents at five Intercommunity Mercy Housing properties.
Katie Parker, Intercommunity Mercy Housing resident services director, said that residents always want to know when Reber will return. The workshops not only promote smart career planning; they encourage literacy among children and adults and help publicize a local author. All attendees receive free copies of the book.
“When Deborah presents to our residents, a world of possibilities seem to open up to them,” Parker said. “She is a great presenter and knowledgeable about the topics. Residents immediately get excited and fully participate.”
On Jan. 21, Reber will bring “In Their Shoes” to Intercommunity Mercy Housing’s Appian Way Apartments in Kent, Wash. Intercommunity Mercy Housing is raising funds for a $1.4 million community center at Appian Way that will enable the organization to offer more programs like Reber’s to the nearly 450 residents who live there. Intercommunity Mercy Housing currently operates its resident services, such as an after-school program, community dinners and health services, out of a cramped two-bedroom apartment on the property.
The 5,500-square-foot community center is part of a $24.3 million rehabilitation project. The Washington State Housing Trust Fund has committed $1.7 million to Appian Way, with $135,000 dedicated to the community center. To close the $575,000 funding gap for the community center, Intercommunity Mercy Housing is appealing to foundations, corporations and individuals.
“The new community center at Appian Way would have a significant impact on our residents and the surrounding community,” said Cynthia Parker, president of Intercommunity Mercy Housing. “With more space, we could offer the programs and classes our residents and surrounding community members need to stabilize and improve their lives.”
Deborah Reber will give the “In Their Shoes” workshop from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 21, at Appian Way Apartments, 25818 26th Place South, Kent, WA 98032. For more information, contact Katie Parker at (206) 838-5700, ext. 11, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Reber, go to www.deborahreber.com.
For more information about donating to the Appian Way Apartments community center, contact Paul Chiocco at (206) 838-5700, ext. 12, or email@example.com.