W.I.N. program provides new lease on life for HCC student

Aug 11, 2017

Just a year ago, Houston Community College (HCC) student Lashawndra Henson felt like her life was spiraling out of control. First, she was suffering from a medical condition. Then she lost her job.  In a span of a few weeks, Lashawndra found herself one step from living on the streets.

“I was not able to meet the demands of the bills I had acquired,” recalls Lashawndra. “There was not a job I was unwilling to do, but the bills kept piling up and I was unable to keep up.” Lashawndra remembers how she faced the daunting task of letting go of her possessions one by one.

But as Lashawndra has discovered, what a difference a year can make. Today, she is a student in the Surgical Technology program at HCC Coleman College.

Two developments got her to this point. One was her turning to The Mission of Yahweh, a homeless shelter that has provided support for women and children in crisis since 1961. The other was enrolling into Workforce Integration Now (W.I.N.). The program is a partnership between The Mission of Yahweh and HCC. It covers the cost of short-term certificate programs to help women succeed in the workplace.

“I walked into a new life because when I got here I found out that I could go to school,” Lashawndra says. “I could have a career with real work potentials. I had a lot of jobs but there was no real growth,” adds Lashawndra, who meticulously organizes her textbooks on the shelves next to the bed in her dormitory.

According to Richard Hill, Executive Director of Mission of Yahweh, this partnership with HCC solves the problem faced by many women who leave the homeless shelter hoping to become independent. Usually, they do not have the job skills to allow them to make enough money to stay on their own.

“We found that at times, residents leave here on good terms and believe they can make it out in the world,” explains Hill. Then they have an emergency and don’t have resources to help them withstand that challenge.”

The W.I.N. program takes from two to three months to complete. It has been an eye-opener for Hill to see how women want to pursue unconventional fields. Hill says, “We have women interested in joining careers such as welding, air conditioning, and electrician.  But up until now, they did not have the funds to study them.”

Richard Rosing, Chair of the HCC Human Service Technology Department, which is directly involved with The Mission of Yahweh, considers this partnership a significant tool. “I think that HCC plays a critical role for the community to help people, who have been down on their luck, move forward and do something better with their lives,” says Rosing.

In Lashawndra Henson’s case, the W.I.N program has given her respectability, hope and a desire to pay it forward.  “I can do more, I can be more, I can have more and I can give more,” Lashawndra says. “I would not be able to do that without the W.I.N. program and without the help from HCC.”

To learn more about “The Mission of Yahweh” visit: www.missionofyahweh.org

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