Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Berea’s New Opportunity School for Women
holding fundraiser, settling in to new space
By Judy Clabes
Reeling from an arsonist’s destruction of their school facility last December, the New Opportunity School for Women at Berea is regrouping and aiming for full operation for a June session.
Executive Director Lori Sliwa says that in lieu of their February session, the school’s career and education counselor, Stephanie Beard, is doing outreadh workshops in the surrounding counties, covering job search skills and leadership development.
“As much as we wanted to have the February session, the reality is that the task of regrouping is so great that it would not allow for a quality experience for our women,” Sliwa said.
But the school is settling into new space in the lower level of First Christian Church at 204 Chestnut Street in Berea. This is the same Church that owned the house the school leased that was destroyed by fire.
The next session runs June 3-23, when the school will again be fully operational.
The school’s Alumni Chapter is hosting a fundraiser at the Berea WalMart on Saturday, Feb. 25, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Coordinators Lillian Pratt and George Ann Lakes have gathered graduates, family members and Berea College students to help with the event. Raffle tickets will be sold for items donated by area businesses. NOSW is registered at the WalMart Gift Registry – and donors can visit any WalMart across the country to participate. They’ll be recruiting students – and saying “thanks” to people who have come forward to support the school.
Donations of office supplies, clothing and household furnishings can be made at 204 Chestnut St., Berea Monday through Thursday.
Jane Stephenson, widow of the former, distinguished Berea College President John Stephenson, founded the New Opportunity School for Women in 1987, as an outreach program of the college, to address an urgent need for women in Appalachia to become better educated and employed.
More than 700 women have graduated from its unique program – an intensive three-week residential program for low-income women at least 30-years-old. Students get academic basics, career and education training, and counseling – in preparation for good jobs and careers and a brighter future. Like other students at Berea, they work and have internship experiences.
Photo from New Opportunity School.