Path to success Local homeless women get career counseling via WNY agency

“Close your eyes,” said Merrill Lynch Financial Consultant Gail Marquis to the dozen women sitting in front of her in the 10th floor media room of the Trust Company Bank in Journal Square Wednesday. “Dream of where you would like to be 10 years from now. Make sure you have your dream.”

Marquis was speaking to women enrolled in the North Hudson Community Action Corporation Transitional Housing Program. The program helps women from Union City, West New York, and other cities in Hudson who are homeless. The women, who are referred to the program from local homeless shelters, get a furnished apartment for a year, along with counseling, job training, child care and many other services.

“The women in our program, showing courage in the face of adversity, are an important part of our family,” said North Hudson Community Action Corporation President and CEO Michael Leggiero. The NHCAC is a non-profit agency located in West New York.

Marquis’ talk on money management was part of a six-part series, The Path to Success, given by the Northern Highlands Regional High School’s DECA Chapter and sponsored by the Trust Company Bank and Fleet Bank.

“Our goal is that they have an idea,” said Lindsay Reichart, one of the two high school students from Allendale, N.J. who put this program together. “So that they don’t get taken advantage of. We want to provoke their curiosity.”

DECA, which stands for Distributive Education Clubs of America, is a national marketing club for students interested in careers in marketing, management or who want to start their own business.

This series will be written up as a project and entered into the club’s regional and state competitions. “This is another opportunity for you to gain additional knowledge,” said Leggiero.

How it all began

Ashly Sands, a member of DECA, first thought of the idea for A Path to Success, after attending the Transitional Housing Program’s graduation in August.

“It was mostly the success stories,” said Sands about what touched her most at the graduation. “I saw how hard it has been for them and it made me want to help them.”

Sands then teamed up with Reichart and began working with North Hudson Community Action. “These are women that are trying to get back on their feet,” said Ashly Sands “We are trying to teach them in a way that relates to their lives.”

The series will discuss budgeting, financial planning, real estate and applying for jobs.

“If we have more young women like Ashly and Lindsay,” said Leggiero. “I think our future will be in great hands.”

Motivational speakers

The series features speakers from the corporate, financial and political arenas.

“These are top of the line people that you don’t get to go to unless you are playing with the big boys,” said North Hudson Community Action Public Relations Representative Celena Gray.

Gail Marquis, a financial consultant with Merrill Lynch in Jersey City and a member of the first women’s Olympic basketball team, spoke to the women on Dec. 13, the second part of the series. “Gail Marquis is an example of how much women really can achieve,” said Leggiero.

Marquis warned against the dangers of credit cards and explained the importance of budgeting your money.

“Pay yourself first” was the advice she gave when talking about budgeting money.

Marquis also gave encouragement to the women.

“I have role models,” Marquis said. “And you are somebody’s role model.”

However, she also reminded the women that the path to success is not always an easy road to follow.

“You are going to fall down,” Marquis warned. “But the winners get up.”

Yvonne Ortiz-Haney, a local writer and the Community Director for March of Dimes, spoke to the women about budgeting meals and how to feed a family.

However, before she began her lecture, she first handed out sealed bottles of Folic Acid.

“I call this the unisex vitamin,” said Ortiz-Haney, explaining that folic acid prevents birth defects, but is also good for the heart.


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