Setting Women Up for Success: Jeannie Blackman
Jeannie Blackman had been attending EmBe’s In Her Shoes Breakfast for several years. Fueled by the powerful conversations around her, Blackman felt compelled to get involved.
“I was inspired after going to the In Her Shoes Breakfast to give them a call and sign up to do career coaching,” Blackman said.
Blackman, a longtime supporter of EmBe’s programs, had previously served as a coach for Girls on the Run. After a new opening in her schedule, she found her next volunteer opportunity through Dress for Success Sioux Falls.
Blackman has now been career coaching for the past three years.
“I’ve enjoyed meeting all of the different women that I have been lucky to coach,” Blackman said. “They’ve been an inspiration to me, and I’ve just really enjoyed working with all of them.”
Dress for Success, a global non-profit organization, offers free resources and programs for women. The organization’s services empower women to achieve economic independence. Dress for Success Sioux Falls connects Blackman with clients based on their specific needs.
“I usually start by having them tell me their story and how I can help,” Blackman said. “We have a two-hour session, and I try to get as much done in those two hours towards whatever goals they might have.”
Due to the coronavirus, Blackman’s conversations with clients now take place over the phone or through Zoom calls.
“Unfortunately, we’re not able to meet in person,” Blackman said. “The Dress for Success staff has done such a great job of making their office very welcoming — it’s just a peaceful place to be. I think it’s unfortunate that we’re not able to meet in person, because the nice space is a big part of the time we spend with the client.”
The current circumstances have also impacted the number of clients for Dress for Success. Many clients do not have regular access to reliable technology, such as phones or laptops.
“I just think the number of women we’ve been able to help and work with has decreased dramatically during this time,” Blackman said. “Which is unfortunate because I think this is a time when a lot more women probably need the support.”
Despite the circumstances, one of Blackman’s clients recently received a position.
“I helped her practice interviewing,” Blackman remarked. “She made all of the contacts and did all of the work to get the job herself.”
For those currently seeking employment, Blackman recommends staying active.
“Work on your resume. Work on your interviewing. Stay focused, keep at it and hopefully people will be hiring again soon.”
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Feeling inspired? Visit the Dress for Success Sioux Falls website to get involved today.