GUEST COLUMN: CASPER STAR TRIBUNE
May 7, 2022
By Katie Hogarty,
Climb Wyoming Chief Executive Officer
This Mother’s Day, I am reminded that when life gets tough—as it has for a lot of us during the past two years—there are so many moms who have been there to comfort, reassure, and give us what we need to move through life’s unpredictable ups and downs.
One word comes to mind when I think about the single moms Climb Wyoming serves through our free job training and placement program: tenacious. They often come to us living in crisis, struggling to meet their family’s basic needs, and dealing with stress that is so toxic it impacts brain functioning. Yet they move over and around (and through) obstacles in their path to find meaningful employment that will give their family a better life.
I think of moms like Ashley, who didn’t know how to drive a standard transmission before she sat behind the wheel of a semi for Climb’s commercial driving training. What she learned in that experience, she says, “is that my life starts on the other side of my fear.” Ashley now loves her job as a full-time bus driver for a Wyoming school district.
When moms like Ashley get to the other side and begin new careers, they often break a punishing cycle of poverty that has been in their family for generations.
Every state in the country is struggling with workforce issues right now. In Wyoming, we have a solution that works for participants like Ashley who seek long-term change in employment. Climb’s model, developed more than 35 years ago with a focus on mental health services and partnerships with employers, has powerful impacts that are leading the way in workforce development on a national scale.
“When the struggle to survive each day goes away, there’s so much room for a family to grow and thrive.”
I was recently asked to present to the National Governors Association in Washington, DC—a bipartisan coalition that supports governors in identifying best practices and priorities for public policy. I was proud to represent Wyoming as a rural state leading the way in poverty alleviation.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has also recognized Climb as a best-practice job training program. One reason is that, since 1986, the State of Wyoming has saved more than $117 million from decreased dependence on public assistance programs among Climb graduates.
In all, these graduates have contributed 44 million hours of work to Wyoming’s economy. During the current labor shortage, hard-working moms are filling critical gaps in healthcare, transportation, and other essential industries.
Climb graduates make Wyomingites proud. They—with the support of our employer and community partners, trainers, donors, elected officials, policy makers, and so many more—have made Climb one of the best programs in the country for moving families out of poverty.
I am so grateful for our amazing graduates who work hard day after day to give their children what they need to succeed in life. For Climb moms, this is the most important thing: to come home from a secure, well-paying job and help their kids with homework, take them to piano lessons, watch them win a baseball game.
When the struggle to survive each day goes away, there’s so much room for a family to grow and thrive. When a single mom who has been at the lowest point in her life turns things around and tucks her kids in at night in a safe, stable home, she breathes a sigh of relief and has hope for tomorrow. For any mom, this is the best Mother’s Day gift of all.