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From trucking to welding — moms take jobs that pay the bills

Published: Wednesday, April 30 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

The in-depth nature of CLIMB's training means that it makes a big investment in its trainees, and it's not cheap. One of the criticisms of the program is that it's only able to reach so many people. With sites in six cities, CLIMB runs 18 programs a year with 10 women in each program, for an average of about 180 trainees per year. There's also the question of help for single fathers, which is also a need, but when CLIMB began in the mid-1980s, the majority of Wyoming households in poverty were run by single mothers, so that's where it started, says Shannon Brooks Hamby, CLIMB's statewide director of communications. Now helping women is its "area of expertise."

"There are different ways to approach the battle against poverty, and ours is a program that helps a small number of people a lot, instead of helping a lot of people a little," says Brooks Hamby. She attributes the high success rate to the focus and depth of the program. "We are interested in long-term change, and our success rate shows that is sustainable over time," she says.

Montoya says that the extra attention and life skills training that CLIMB offered — like budgeting and mock job interviews — along with the counseling made her feel "cared for." In group therapy, "you get to watch girls cry or get happy, it helped us get closer and lean on each other — it was a very good bonding experience," she says. It also helped her feel comfortable with her past, she says, while she was changing her life.

CLIMB offers periodic reunions for its cohorts, and Montoya still has lunch with a few friends from her class. "I see those girls in trucks," she says, "and we wave to each other."

Email: laneanderson@deseretnews.com

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