What is the Women’s Project
The fINdings Women’s Project provides women of diverse ethnic heritage the opportunity to design and produce art. This enables them to discover their creative capabilities and entrepreneurial skills. The Women’s Project also provides training in English language communication, job preparation and community leadership.
Participants provide service to children in hospitals, women shelters, and other organizations by producing handmade clothing, toys, blankets and bags. Many are empowered to take on leadership roles in their children’s schools and neighborhood communities. The opportunity to create and serve fosters personal growth that will enrich their own lives and help them contribute to their families and society.
How the Women’s Project Came to Be
The fINdings Women’s Project stemmed from a very successful Family Literacy Program through the Meyler Adult Learning Center. Annette Ciketic was the founder and coordinator of the Family Literacy program, opened in 2001. Initially, parents and their children came to the program exclusively to learn English. Their rapid progress eventually led to parents requesting employment services and information on how to get involved in their local schools and communities.
In 2007, the Los Angeles Police Department initiated the Weed and Seed Community Grant and invited Meyler to participate. This grant provided the school the resources necessary to train local mothers to be leaders in their community. They quickly became strong contributors to gang intervention and early child risk prevention. Through this program, the Mother’s Leadership class was formed.
In this class, mothers learned how to get involved in their children’s school, find jobs, and research the available resources in their community. These women were able to use their personal talents to give back by supporting a younger generation.
Since 2007, over one hundred women have participated in the program under the direction of the Harbor Community Adult School, Los Angeles Unified School District. The women have remained active in their community by hosting various school events, donating services to community projects, learning new creative skills, attending conferences and workshops, and participating in their children’s schools’ parent leadership programs. Upon finding a common purpose, many of these women have made new friends, relieved stress through creative outlets, and improved their self esteem. Some have obtained jobs and gone on to higher education.
In 2008 a new element was added. Through fINdings Art Center in San Pedro, the women had the opportunity to participate in the Women’s fINdings Project where they could take part in creative, leadership-building events.
The Women’s Project Today
As of June 30, 2011, Los Angeles Unified School District closed the Mother’s Leadership class due to severe financial cutbacks. However, that did not stop these dedicated moms from getting involved. fINdings Art Center, under Executive Director Annette Ciketic, maintains its connection with the women of the leadership class. As a part of the fINdings Women’s Project, they continue to meet at the Parent Center at Meyler Elementary School to create their art and give back to the community.
A few months later, funding was approved to expand the program to a second location. Similar services became available at the Toberman Neighborhood Center in San Pedro as of January 2012.
The Project has been accepted as a Charter member of Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles. This venture provides an economic opportunity for the women involved in the Women’s Project. Each woman receives a consignment stipend for her sold items and has the opportunity to represent the Women’s Project at the Crafted Market Stall 125. In addition, Crafted serves as a public relations venue for the Immaculate Heart Community, a dear supporter and collaborator of the fINdings Art Center.
The fINdings Women’s Project is recognized as a sustainability “upcycle” center whereby supporters and friends can deliver their unused fabric, yarn, and craft materials to reuse or redistribute to other programs.