YMCA RISE program helps immigrant moms in Winston-Salem

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Right now, dozens of women are gaining a new sense of independence.

Many of them are stay-at-home moms who are adjusting to life in America.

The Robinhood Road Family YMCA is teaching them English and how to turn interests into income.

“Most of the funding for adult literacy programs throughout the whole country is based on jobs and helping people get jobs, but because a lot of our women don't have transportation access and they need to take care of their children, we were looking for part-time opportunities so that they could start their own businesses and make money at home,” said Julie Tomberlin, program director of the adult literacy program at the Robinhood Road YMCA.

That’s how RISE - Refugee and Immigrant Society of Entrepreneurs – started. It’s a sub-program of the adult literacy initiative.

It started in 2017 with about 30 women currently participating.

“The hope is by the time they want full-employment, their English will be better and they will have learned some skills they can use,” Tomberlin said.

The women received donated sewing machines to explore what they enjoy creating and to develop their talents.

They are given the opportunity to sell handmade items at the New Philly Farmers Market in Winston-Salem.

Cooking is another source of income through a partnership with Southern Home & Kitchen.

The participants teach cooking classes and keep all the money they make.

The next step is to get the women to set up Facebook and PayPal accounts so they can sell their products online.

The adult literacy program is available through multiple YMCA locations under the Northwest North Carolina branch.

However, the RISE component is primarily based out of the Robinhood Road Family YMCA.

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