YWCA Princeton and Latinas Unidas to launch new program

In July, Trenton’s YWCA closed, and Latinas Unidas, a community resource for the area’s Latinas since 1992, was left without a home. That same month, however, it established new roots in Princeton when the local YWCA took Latinas Unidas, along with its program director, Cecy Jimenez-Weeast, under its umbrella. On Oct. 1, the organization will launch its first new program since the transfer.

For nearly 25 years, Latinas Unidas has only worked with adults. Inspired by Princeton YWCA’s plethora of youth programs, and after seeing first-hand the need for such in her time as director, Jimenez-Weeast felt it was time to direct the organization’s attention to a younger group – perhaps those who have needed it most all along.

emPOWER THROUGH, a name Jimenez-Weeast hopes youth can relate to, will work with men and women ages 16 to 24 from throughout Mercer County. Those who enroll will receive a nine-month training course three hours a day, Monday through Friday, to prepare them to pass the HiSET, earn their General Educational Development and get employed.

“I have worked in adult education in Trenton for 25 years and now see that many of the people I’ve worked with have children who never completed their GED. It’s a need I have identified through the clients we serve,” Jimenez-Weeast said. “Our youth, especially those without GEDS, are having a very hard time finding jobs. The main goal is to get them to pass the test and prepare them for the workforce.”

While Latinas Unidas’ mission has always been to work with the Hispanic community, emPOWER THROUGH will not limit who can enroll in the program. It will be open to any individual living in Mercer County between the prescribed ages and will be offered in both English and Spanish.

Participants will also receive intake counseling sessions, BEST Plus testing, printing and mailing services, mock job interviews, help with professional clothing and membership in an alumni group for continued support. If applicants are not immediately enrolled, the YWCA Princeton will provide them with other interim resources.

“We just want the youth to come and feel at home. We are going to provide them with a lot of incentives to keep them engaged, such as bus passes, full use of the WiFi while on site, access to printing and mail services as well as free childcare for those who have children,” Jimenez-Weeast said.

Once the nine-month curriculum is completed, the HiSET test will be administered at the YWCA Princeton. Afterward, participants will be given the opportunity to volunteer and work with Latinas Unidas and the YWCA Princeton regardless of their scores.

Individuals interested in emPOWER THROUGH can call Jimenez-Weeast at (609) 989-7149 or visit YWCAPrinceton.org.

About Erica Chayes Wida

Erica Chayes Wida is a writer, mom, and complete zealot when it comes to poetry, paella and globe collections. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, Erica moved to Italy where the seasons and old architecture inspired her journey back to the East Coast. Since then, she and her husband have created a nest egg locally and, over time, developed a rather grand love affair with the town of Princeton. Erica is senior editor at The Princeton Sun and enjoys fulfilling her Princeton affections on a daily basis. | View all posts by Erica Chayes Wida