Hastings YWCA helping women transition into the workforce

The Career Closet at the YWCA of Adams County (NTV News)

Finding a job can be hard, and adding a former prison sentence can make it even more difficult.

The Career Closet at the YWCA in Hastings gives women the tools to get a fresh start on life after months, and sometimes years, of unemployment.

"I just left treatment about two weeks ago," said Career Closet patron Nicole Dibbern. "I'm on probation for some charges and stuff like that but I'm in the process of getting my son back."

Part of that process is finding a job.

"I was applying for jobs all weekend and I was like, I need a resume, and boom," said Dibbern.

She was invited to the Career Closet, which works with women like Dibbern and Melissa Serda to help them create a resume.

"I did work on a resume," said Serda. "That'd be the first resume I've had since 2005.

They help the women use their past experiences to their benefit.

"I didn't know that I was experienced with a lot of the things that I did at my jobs," said Dibbern. "A lot of them were just fast food and ice cream places but still my resume looks awesome, thanks to her."

The Closet also allows women to "shop" for free interview suits and work clothing.

"I was able to find dress clothes," said Serda. "At first I didn't think that they matched but you guys all helped me and shoes."

Many of the young women say they enjoy the experience, thanks to a coordinator who's passionate about the Closet and can relate to the girls.

"It gets you ready for the outside world especially girls that are coming in with all the problems that we have on the streets," said Career Closet coordinator, Laura Seger. "I was one of those people and I've come a long way. I've been clean for years and I'm a new person so I'm happy with myself."

Before finding the Career Closet, Laura spent more than a decade in prison.

"I came to the career closet myself when I got out of prison because I had no clothes, no nothing," said Seger. "I was in a new town and they helped me out and I've been here ever since."

Looking to the future, Laura hopes to continue helping women like herself find hope through financial independence.

"The more we get word out into the community the more girls that we can help to get them set up for job search and just to be comfortable knowing they have their own clothes and they don't have to borrow it, or get it from somewhere else," said Seger.

Some of the items the career closet carries are interview suits, daily work clothes, even scrubs.

During 2016, the closet was able to help 154 women, and 71 percent of them found employment.

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