'Women Investing in Women' helping women find good jobs

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If you think you have an interesting "Today's Woman" topic, you can contact Candice Madsen at cmadsen@ksl.com. SALT LAKE CITY -- A newly-formed group of Salt Lake businesswomen is helping single moms and low-income women find a good job.

"Women Investing in Women" ensures that valuable services are available through the People Helping People program.

Right now, it's tough for a lot of people to find work, but single moms and women in already low-paying jobs are especially vulnerable.

Crystal Darger tried to make it on her own, but with nine children and a low-paying job, the ends never met.

"It was overwhelming starting all over. When I left I didn't take anything. I wasn't receiving child support. I was completely on my own," she said.

Through the People Helping People program she learned how to better market her skills and look for careers outside the box.

"Being a mother of nine children, I had more experience than I realized I had. So, even though you are a stay-at-home mom, or you may have a little bit experience out in the world, there's a lot of things you acquire throughout your life that employers do look for," she said.

Therese Milad has been involved with People Helping People for over a decade. "I think one of the reasons our program is so successful is that we teach them not to be victims, that there are opportunities wherever you are, and to be positive about it," she said.

Milad recently launched the philanthropic arm, Women Investing in Women. The goal is to find people willing to commit to regular donations. In this tight economy, those contributions are becoming especially crucial.

"We're even struggling with women on our board and volunteers who have lost employment," Milad said.

Kayleen Simmons founded People Helping People and says it is getting harder to help clients find jobs.

"What we're seeing now is folks that were maybe marginal employees, just due to lack of skills or experience, are being let go. And those who don't have as good of skills are not getting the jobs because people with better skills are being hired," she said.

But Simmons says the challenging economy is inspiring more people to get involved and help women like Darger, who ended up becoming a professional truck driver at Kennecott.

She is now using her story to motivate others. "Since enrolling in People Helping People, I have doubled my income by changing to a non-traditional industry," she says.

She also bought a house, a car, even a boat. But the biggest reward of all is that her daughters will soon become the first members of her family to graduate from college.

"Right now I'm at a great place in my life. I do love life. I'm financially stable," Darger said.

Darger has also gone back to school herself and is now pursuing a degree in mining engineering.

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