WWCC Women's Services affected by budget cuts

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WALLA WALLA - The Women's Center at Walla Walla Community College has closed, following a series of budget cuts that covered staffing.

College spokesman Clint Gabbard said state budget cuts led to the center's demise, as well as the elimination of the IMPACT! Life Transitions Program for displaced homemakers.

Gabbard said the decline of the Women's Center goes back to last fall, when the center's long-term director resigned. The position was never filled because of budget cuts implemented at the college last year, but the center remained open.

During the 2010-11 academic year, the Women's Center operated under reduced hours and was staffed by Deana York, who also ran the IMPACT! program.

During this year's legislative session, legislators cut all state funding for Life Transitions programs around the state.

Gabbard said the college offered temporary funding for York's position to maintain it through the year, but York took another position elsewhere.

"This left us with no one on campus who can provide the time to keep the center open," Gibbard said.

The Women's Center provided support and referral services to students, and helped them with particular needs or challenges, such as being adult learners, single parents, or displaced homemakers. The center coordinated seminars and workshops, mentoring opportunities, and clubs. The site of the Women's Center, across from the college's Parent and Child Center, is now vacant.

The IMPACT! program offered free services to individuals displaced from years as unpaid homemakers. Resources included counseling, and job-readiness and skills training. According to online information, IMPACT! began in 2004 and helped more than 200 individuals complete classes.

Gabbard said there may still be a chance for the center to reopen or for the services to be offered in a new way.

"We plan to evaluate this fall quarter and see if we can create a plan to maintain services in that center," he said. In the meantime, students formerly served by the center are having their needs met through other programs offered at the campus.

Some of those programs include the college's Worker Retraining program, covered by a grant, helps displaced workers or individual who are out of work return to the workforce. Also, the state Opportunity Grant serves low-income students gain skills that are in high demand workforce areas.

Gabbard said in times of budget and program cuts, the college looks to cover students' needs with existing staff and programs.

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