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CLIMB Wyoming Summer 2015 Newsletter

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A Peek at the Current Commercial Drivers License Program in Cheyenne

We asked Val Arias, business liaison at our Cheyenne program, to send us a few video clips from their current Commercial Drivers License program.

Click the screen below for a behind-the-scenes look at this group of dedicated and brave women changing their lives!


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Partners in the effort to re-open CLIMB Wyoming to serve the Sweetwater community celebrate CLIMB’s return during a press conference on Thursday, July 30, 2015. Front row from left: Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce CEO Dave Hanks, Green River Mayor Pete Rust, Rock Springs Mayor Carl Demshar, Commissioner Don Van Matre and Senator. Bernadine Craft Back row from left: Senator John Hastert, CLIMB Executive Director Ray Fleming Dinneen, Sweetwater County Commissioner Randy “Doc” Wendling, Rock Springs Councilman Tim Savage, Councilwoman Glennise Wendorf, Commissioner John Kolb, Representative JoAnn Dayton and Representative John Freeman.

CLIMB Wyoming Will Re-Open Program in Sweetwater County

Late Thursday afternoon, legislative, county and city officials from the Sweetwater community joined CLIMB founder and executive director Dr. Ray Fleming Dinneen during a press conference for an exciting announcement in Rock Springs, WY.

 “Thanks to an increased diversification in our funding, including financial support from the Sweetwater County Commissioners, a willingness to investigate future funding opportunities from the cities of Rock Springs and Green River, and the ongoing support from our private and corporate donors in the region, CLIMB Wyoming is thrilled to announce that we will re-open our program in the Sweetwater community,” said Dr. Fleming Dinneen, founder and executive director of CLIMB Wyoming.

Since departing the Sweetwater area in October 2014, CLIMB Wyoming has also secured two new public funding opportunities with the Employment and Training Division of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and access to new state funding for job placement and training for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) eligible families that was passed by the legislature in early 2015.  The state funding will provide a match for CLIMB’s private and corporate donations in the coming year.

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Employer Says CLIMB Graduates Stand Out From the Rest

As the Human Resources Manager for the Mountain View Clinic in Casper, Deb English is responsible for all of the hiring and recruiting for this busy physicians clinic. She first heard about the CLIMB Wyoming program through her good friend Senator Bernadine Craft.

“Bernadine and I are passionate about understanding outreach projects in our communities,” says Deb. “She told me about CLIMB Wyoming and I thought it sounded like such a wonderful program. In my research on CLIMB in late 2014, I saw that a group of women who were being trained as medical assistants were about to graduate so I reached out to CLIMB directly to let them know I was looking for intake coordinators.”

Deb subsequently hired two CLIMB graduates for her open positions.

“I was looking for people who had been trained in medical terminology and basic intake procedures like taking blood pressure, but I also needed employees who were going to be really good with our patients,” Deb says. “We put our patients first—it’s a prioritized value for our clinic—so it wasn’t just about technical skills. I was looking to hire people who had good communication skills, who would listen and have empathy for our patients and be motivated to help them.”

Mountain View Clinic HR Manager Deb English (right) values the dedication to success shown by CLIMB graduates Elizabeth (left) and Candie (center) have found success

Mountain View Clinic HR Manager Deb English (right) values the dedication to success shown by CLIMB graduates Elizabeth (left) and Candie (center).

The CLIMB graduates were memorable among the field of applicants for the open positions at the clinic.

“Each of the CLIMB graduates immediately sent me a thank you card for taking the time to interview them,” says Deb. “One called in every week to see where we were in the hiring process and reiterate her excitement about the position, and why she was a good fit. Ultimately, we hired her along with one other CLIMB graduate.”

Deb appreciated CLIMB’s hands-on approach to the job placement process and found working with Lesha, the Casper CLIMB program director, to be helpful in facilitating some challenging conversations.

“There were many times that we all met to talk about how the graduates were doing,” Deb says. “We could have hard conversations about expectations and we could also problem-solve together.”

Deb was honored to witness the transformative effect that a new job has had on the CLIMB graduates who she employs.

“I see how having a new career is life-changing for them and for their children,” she says. “They are determined to succeed. They are dedicated and try incredibly hard in their jobs and they are open to the feedback that will continue to help them succeed. I would reach out to CLIMB again the next time we have an opening.”

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Mother’s Day Campaign Results

Thank you for joining CLIMB Wyoming in our celebration of Mother’s Day this spring! Nearly 200 gifts were donated to CLIMB in honor or in memory of amazing moms and mentors. Due to your generosity, $45,000 has been invested in our efforts to provide a brighter future for Wyoming’s most vulnerable families. A special thanks to the thoughtful CLIMB donors who provided matching gifts for this year’s Mother’s Day campaign: Mary Shafer-Malicki, Lynn and Foster Friess, Noa and Ted Staryk, Carole and Norm Hofley, J.J. Healy, Pam and Phelps Swift, and an anonymous donor.

Five Graduate from Teton AreaAt the end of June, the Teton Area CLIMB Wyoming program celebrated five graduates who received training in office skills careers. Two graduates were placed in the banking industry, and one is employed in a senior recreation facility. The additional two graduates are also employed. If you are interested in learning more about employing Teton Area CLIMB Wyoming graduates, drop us an email at teton@climbwyoming.org.

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CLIMB Graduate Shannon Shares Her Story of Hope

Shannon and her two sons enjoy a family vacation outside of Mount Rushmore.

Shannon and her two sons enjoy a family vacation outside of Mount Rushmore.

“It is hard and overwhelming to juggle a job and raise kids, especially in a job where you are barely scraping by,” says Shannon, a graduate from CLIMB’s Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program in Gillette. “It’s stressful. You get low in patience. This had a lot of effects on my sons.”

Before CLIMB, Shannon had been slowly working for 10 years toward a nursing degree while raising her two sons. But a divorce and a low-income job were taking a toll on her hopes for a career—and her ability to manage stress.

In CLIMB’s parenting classes, Shannon appreciated knowing that she wasn’t alone in feeling overwhelmed, thanks to the connections she made with the other women who were going through the CLIMB program alongside her. “I learned coping and management skills to help with my kids. I learned that frustration and anger were totally normal. I didn’t have anyone in my life who I could share those things with.”

For Shannon, CLIMB’s therapeutic approach was just as important as the job training. “CLIMB focuses on building you as an individual. That isn’t something that you get with other job programs. I grew a lot—you learn life skills, not just job skills.”

Today, Shannon works as a hospice CNA and is able to spend four days a week with her sons.

Shannon admits that she will always be a work in progress. But now she knows that it’s okay to express her feelings, whether happy or sad. “I’ve learned how to express my feelings comfortably and respectfully, and I understand that other people’s feelings matter, too. I notice my oldest mimicking me in sharing his feelings. He lets them be known in a calm and appropriate way.”

Thanks to financial support offered by her current employer, Shannon plans to complete her nursing degree when her youngest son reaches school age. “I learned that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. If I set my mind to something, I can do it. Now I look at the world as anything is accomplishable.

“People who know I am a single mom, they don’t always understand how it feels and how you struggle. Before CLIMB, I wasn’t looking for a hand out, I was looking for a hand up.”


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CLIMB Wyoming Recognized for Multi-Generational Approach

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CLIMB Wyoming will be included as a promising innovation meeting the unique needs of young parents and their children in rural areas through a multi-generational program approach by the Center for the Study of Social Policy in an upcoming national program scan. This research paper will highlight six rural and suburban organizations nationwide that fully integrate supports for each generation, with practices that specifically reflect the developmental needs of both children and young parents, negotiate agreements among multiple service providers, and take action to influence the broader systems that can provide additional support.

“CLIMB was one program that we found was making a two-generation impact with rural families,“ says Cailin O’Connor, policy analyst, Center for the Study of Social Policy. “Although the primary focus of the program is on the parent, the CLIMB approach includes a parenting focus that is critical to the success of both the mother and her children.”

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Transition to New Job Made Easier Thanks to CLIMB

No matter who you are, a transition into a new job is at best overwhelming, with the expectation of creating new relationships, assimilating into the office culture and proving your ability in your new role. In order to ensure the highest rate of long-term success for program graduates, CLIMB Wyoming stays engaged with both employer and graduate during this critical transition.

“While I was at CLIMB, we talked a lot about finding the right fit, not only for the employer but for us as CLIMB graduates,” says Jamie, a graduate of the Laramie CLIMB program. “We all made lists of things that were important to us in our jobs—things like benefits, or if we wanted to get dressed up every day for work. I wrote that I wanted a full-time position with health insurance and a flexible schedule.”

As Laramie CLIMB Program Director Katie Hogarty started to investigate the professional opportunities that would meet Jamie’s needs, she was contacted by Dr. Somlyay from Seasons Psychiatric Clinic.

“I had read about CLIMB Wyoming, and I liked that their training approach included specific office skills and broader workplace skills like communication,” says Dr. Somlyay. “When I met with Katie I could tell that she was really listening to my needs, and thinking about specific CLIMB participants that might be a good match. I was looking for someone with a demeanor that would allow them to interact successfully with my clientele who are of all ages. Honesty, work ethic and someone who understood patient confidentiality were very important to me. Frankly, I wasn’t sure if what I wanted was even possible to find.”

Dr. Somlyay agreed to an interview with Jamie and remembers her as professional and articulate. She offered Jamie an office position just a few hours after the interview.

CLIMB graduate Jamie (left) and Dr. Janet Somlyay (right) in front of the Seasons Clinic in Laramie.

CLIMB graduate Jamie (left) and Dr. Janet Somlyay (right) in front of the Seasons Clinic in Laramie.

CLIMB offers support to both graduates and employers once the job placement is made.

“What really helped me as a new hire was knowing I could check back in with CLIMB if I had questions about what was appropriate in the workplace,” says Jamie.

Katie joined Jamie and Dr. Somlyay for 30-day and 90-day evaluations to help support Jamie in using the workplace communication skills she had learned.

“We talked about receiving feedback from your supervisor during the CLIMB program—how not to take it personally and that it can be uncomfortable but is really helpful in the long run,” says Jamie. “Understanding that, and having Katie there initially, prepared me for the future. I just had my one-year evaluation last month and it wasn’t something I was anxious about. I knew what to expect.”

“Katie gave me the CLIMB evaluation form which was helpful,” says Dr. Somlyay. “I knew it would be familiar to Jamie and it was broad enough that I could still individualize it.”

Dr. Somlyay has invested in trainings for Jamie to help her assume greater responsibilities in her role. Jamie has completed medical billing and coding training, collections training, scheduling management training, and has been promoted to Office Manager/Medical Biller, supervising a part-time bookkeeper. In addition to growing in her role at her job, Jamie is excited about the impact of this career in her personal life.

“I’m working full-time instead of part-time, and I’m not on government assistance, which is a huge difference from just a year ago,” Jamie says. “I have great flexibility. When my daughter started Kindergarten last year, I was able to coordinate my schedule so I could drop her off every day. And this summer I have been able to adjust my schedule to leave work early so I can spend more time with her.”

Dr. Somlyay appreciates the commitment that CLIMB makes to the success of participants in the program.

“It was an easy process to work with CLIMB,” says Dr. Somlyay. “CLIMB has provided me with a great employee who has an eagerness to learn and succeed. I know that if Jamie felt like she needed support from them that they would be there for her. I am very grateful to CLIMB.”

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Dr. Fleming Dinneen Tapped as Faculty for Systems to Family Stability National Policy Academy

In June, Dr. Fleming Dinneen was invited to Washington, D.C. to share CLIMB’s expertise in job-driven training and career pathways as a faculty member during the Systems to Family Stability National Policy Academy, a project initiated by the US Department of Health and Human Services Administration’s Children and Families Office of Family Assistance.

The Academy brought together eight selected State and County Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) agency teams to work on building internal systems within and across agencies that improve family stability and economic self-sufficiency. Dr. Fleming Dinneen was asked to participate in one of three areas of focus during the academy, building career pathways through job-driven training, and alignment between TANF and Workforce systems.

“The attending agencies were most curious about CLIMB’s proven long-term success rate, and much of the discussion focused on two specific staff roles within the CLIMB model: the mental health practitioner and the business liaison,” says Dr. Fleming Dinneen. “I shared the expertise and skill set that we look for in those positions. We also discussed addressing participant barriers within a mental health model, the impact of the group in the CLIMB program, and the importance of life skills like parenting.

“It was fascinating to break down the elements of the CLIMB program into more scalable and digestible pieces, and rewarding for me to share those pieces with individuals who are deeply invested in helping their clients succeed,” she says.

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Welcome Erica!
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Erica Martel recently joined our Operations Office in Cheyenne as the statewide database administrator. She will manage the collection, input, reporting and analysis associated with our participant data.
Welcome Kerry!
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Kerry Lloyd recently joined CLIMB as the statewide communications coordinator. She will assist in the development and execution of CLIMB’s marketing and communications materials.


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How to Give


A gift to CLIMB Wyoming furnishes the important resources needed to support CLIMB participants as they work toward a career that provides a secure and self-sufficient wage.

It is easy to give electronically through our secure website: www.climbwyoming.org/support or you can simply text the amount you want to donate to (307) 201-7115. Gifts can also be mailed to 1001 W. 31st Street, Cheyenne WY 82001. CLIMB Wyoming is a registered non-profit organization and your gift is tax deductible.

To receive email updates from CLIMB Wyoming, please email news@climbwyoming.org.