After moving back to Milwaukee from Illinois to live with her daughter, Bertha felt depressed. “I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home granny; I wanted to get up and do something every day!”
One morning, Bertha decided to head out for a walk...that was the day her life changed.
“I walked past the YWCA and decided to go in and see if they had a program for me to get my high school equivalency degree,” said Bertha. “Everyone was so nice and helpful - they signed me up that day!”
United Way funding supports the Community Adult Learning Lab at YWCA Southeast Wisconsin, which helps participants increase skills and certifications - like achieving a high school equivalency degree - that lead to employment or advancement.
Bertha loved her classes. “The night before each class, I would lay out my outfit and review my assignments,” she recalled. “It was wonderful to feel, at this age, that someone was boosting me up!”
Though she struggled with math, instructors were patient and helpful. When COVID-19 forced classes to go virtual, YWCA supplied it’s students with refurbished laptops and went above and beyond to ensure Bertha stayed on track. “I didn’t have a car and my instructors insisted on dropping off and picking up my assignments for me so I didn’t have to take the bus,” said Bertha. “They were a godsend!”
Learning to use the computer was a challenge for Bertha. “Technology was the reason I decided to take a break from my career in healthcare in 2007,” said Bertha. “That break lasted 13 years. So when I went back and had to use the computer, I was intimidated. But the YWCA helped me every step of the way. Now I’m getting very used to the computer.”
Shortly before her graduation in October of 2020, Bertha found work as a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home. “I love what I do - ensuring the people in my care are clean, comfortable, and have good conversation,” said Bertha. “The reason I have this job is because of the help I received from the YWCA.”
In January of 2021, Bertha moved into her own apartment just up the street from her job. She is loving life and feeling motivated. “Now I want to go back to YWCA to continue my learning so I can help my grandchildren with math,” said Bertha. “If you don’t use it, you lose it!”
Bertha and YWCA remind us all that to live better, we must Live United. Consider supporting this important work with a donation to United Way’s Community Fund.