For Karen Harvey, president of the Karen Harvey Consulting Group, the last year has been special. She has organized Women in Need: The Blue Project to help abused and disadvantaged women get a shot at reentering the workforce.
“It’s been a way to combine our training and development and executive search services with helping disadvantaged women recover their self-esteem,” said Harvey at a party Thursday at her Union Square office in New York celebrating the first anniversary of the project and its first five graduates: Maublette Hill, Leonora Tracey, Camille Brown, Kindra McMillian and Launa Anderson.
Harvey said the five women took a class a month for 12 months and that the program might be intensified. “These are women who moved up from shelters to supported housing and were carefully screened to participate in this pilot program,” Harvey said. “We had sessions on self-esteem, résumé writing and interviewing, and [representatives] from Nike and Claiborne participated.” So far, “two of the five women landed concrete jobs.”
Brown was a victim of domestic violence, but left Houston and relocated to the Bronx with her four kids. “After going through that experience, it really diminishes you. You really feel like nothing,” Brown confided. She said she was out of work for two years, but The Blue Project helped restore her confidence and poise and was instrumental in her securing a job at the Universal Survey Center, where she conducts surveys over the phone.
“Project Blue really helps women who don’t have jobs or the confidence to get them, and coaches them on skills to go out and find jobs,” said Charlotte Prince, board chair, WIN.
Aside from The Blue Project, WIN houses over 2,500 women and children every night in the five New York boroughs and provides roughly $1,200 to $1,400 a year to help the women pay telephone bills and meet other expenses so they can maintain their housing. “It could be the difference between making it or not making it,” Prince said of the financial support. “Homeless families are dramatically on the rise this year for lots of reasons. Real estate is expensive and subsidy programs are in flux. We need to raise over $4.5 million a year through private contributions to provide quality programs.”
About 100 fashion industry figures, including Isaac Mizrahi, Charles Nolan, Jeffry Aronsson, Amsala, Nicole Fischelis, Brian Reyes, Cynthia Steffe and Stan Tucker, attended the party, which was cohosted by Stephanie George, corporate executive vice president of Time Warner.