Productive Discomfort: A Job Training Program for Single Moms That Centers Mental Health

Hannah is 34, has two kids, and lives in Casper, Wyoming, where she was born and raised. Hannah’s been working in construction for 3 years, ever since she graduated from Climb Wyoming’s 12 week job training program, where she earned her commercial drivers license. Climb Wyoming has been around for more than 36 years and helps single moms like Hannah gain financial independence and stability by teaching them the specific skills that are needed to get hired for local jobs. These are jobs that have a path for advancement, and can help get the moms out of poverty, like commercial truck driving for Hannah, or, for a mom named Kendra, becoming a bank teller at a bank in her small town. But Climb Wyoming also provides mental health and emotional support—among the moms and from the staff. This is key in helping moms like Hannah, who dropped out of school when she was 16 because of crippling anxiety. Anna talks with Hannah about finding a sense of belonging and how Climb gave her the tools to stay present in moments of stress. Anna also talks with Climb leaders, Katie Hogarty and Molly Kruger, about why centering mental health is crucial to the success of their program, and to 24-year-old mom, Kendra, who shares one of the most valuable lessons she learned at Climb: “We had a saying that says, ‘They hire you for your hard skills, but they fire you for your soft skills.'”