Area women enjoyed lunch together as part of the Women to Women Career Mentoring Program. The program started in the spring of 2011 as a project of the Cedar Valley United Way's Women Philanthropy Connection (WPC).
"We are women who contribute to United Way, and we wanted to do more than contribute. We wanted a project to give back to the community," said Cheryl Einsweiler.
Cheryl Einsweiler got the Women to Women Mentoring Program up and running. It pairs female students at Hawkeye Community College with women in the community.
"It's just another level of support that I think many of our students need. Something or somebody to be their cheerleader, and I think that's what this whole program's about," said Hawkeye Community College Dean of Students Nancy Henderson.
Each semester, mentors are trained and paired with students who sign up for the program. The ladies are encouraged to meet once a month. There are 23 pairs this semester.
"Somebody to bounce ideas off of. It's just that extra guiding hand to help them move upward and onward," said Cheryl Einsweiler.
At this luncheon, some pairs are meeting for the first time while some are continuing their relationship, like Darlene Fitkin and Gloria Paulsen.
Fitkin first attended college 30 years ago. This is her third time back to get her degree. She signed up for a mentor to help her with her insecurities.
"College is different. Learning process is different. I'm different," said Darlene Fitkin.
Fitkin originally wanted to major in education, but switched after talking to her mentor.
"Through working with her and talking with her, I re-directed and starting into social work," said Fitkin.
Mentor Gloria Paulsen is confident Fitkin, who counsels the homeless, is now on the right path to completing her degree.
"It's been a wonderful experience to help someone hopefully better their lives," said Gloria Paulsen.
Next semester, Paulsen is taking over as director when Einsweiler steps down.
"It's going to make the program expand and get better. we've got fresh, new ideas," said Einsweiler.
But Cheryl Einsweiler will continue as a mentor to help women make the transition from college to career.
If you're interested in joining the Women to Women Mentoring Program, contact the Cedar Valley United Way at 319-235-6211.