My name is Claire Robinson. I am a wife, mother, and blessed to be a grandmother. I was educated in various school systems throughout my life having been a military brat and a former military spouse. I have had the privilege to travel from one part of our beautiful country to another. I have been previously employed in positions that vary from being a waitress; a statistical analyst for the Navy and finally becoming a Family Advocate with Coastal Georgia Community Action. It is in that capacity as a Family Advocate, that I developed and implemented in collaboration with Dominique Mack, the Women’s Empowerment Program in Bryan County.
The Women’s Empowerment program is a psychoeducational group designed to provide a safe place for women ages 18-45 from low socio-economic backgrounds to heal, grow and improve their quality of life while holding each other accountable towards pursuing their goal of economic self-sustainability. The goal of Women’s Empowerment is to provide comprehensive services, education, training and compassionate care to women marked with definitive steps and progressive outcomes. This group works to increase the rate of economic self-sufficiency, increase level of self-confidence and decrease unhealthy behaviors.
To what do you attribute your success in this field?
To be successful as a facilitator and counselor, one must believe in what it is you are committed to doing. Eek out and surround yourself with positive energy and persons who have a vision. That does not always mean, trying to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous, but it means collecting a lot of life lessons along the way and preparing yourself for the journey you are on.
How do you manage your work life balance?
You have to know how to balance work, family and self in order to be effective. The boundaries you establish are to protect you, you the facilitator, you the wife, you the mother, you the counselor and you the co-worker.
What do you hope to accomplish in the near future?
What I hope to accomplish by being a facilitator for a women’s empowerment group is to provide those who were not as fortunate as I have been in my life, who have not had the exposure, the opportunity or the means to follow through on their dreams. When we educate, train and present viable options, and support one another as we work towards moving forward there is nothing that can’t be accomplished.
What has been your most rewarding experience in this field?
The most rewarding experiences since beginning on this journey has been watching my clients grow and become independent in small but significant ways. It is an awesome feeling to see self-confidence developed and self-esteem built up in an individual. The light returning to someone as they learn how to deal with the grief they have kept bottled up, dressing up and receiving a professional make up, obtaining the opportunity to work in a field they thought was out of reach or receiving the degree the client was unattainable. The moments when you receive a phone call to hear a former client tell you “I just want to say “thank you””. These are the moments, that make Women’s Empowerment a powerful tool and message.
To what do you attribute you success in this field?
When I was in college, my mother was as a Child Protective Services Worker. She later became a Director of the local DFCS. I promised myself I would never go into that field as it was too heart breaking. I came home for a Christmas break and mom received a telephone call late into the evening about some children warming themselves by a fire outside of their home and attempting to cook some beans. My mom contacted law enforcement and went to the home to gather the children up and bring them home. I was flustered and angry as to why these kids were ruining my holiday time. My mother looked at me and said, someone has to speak for those who are voiceless. My mother went on to become one of the Court Appointed Special Advocates. As a CASA Volunteer she became a vital part of this program and was successful in having that program instituted in the Atlantic Judicial system. That lesson taught me and showed me that if I do not know where to get the information or what information to request, I am more than likely to remain a victim of my circumstance. For this reason alone, I feel called to develop WEG’s all over. This is not just about empowering women financially, but emotionally and physically, psychologically.