Life is tough, and sometimes women need a hand from other women to prepare for a career or go back to work.
That's where LaRaslum Williams, the first program director of Heartisans Marketplace, comes in.
Heartisans Marketplace is dedicated to changing lives and supporting self-sufficiency one woman at a time.
"With working with kids for so long, I have looked at it and realized that parents are the foundation, but not everyone has that," Williams said. "Women here are trying to restart their life again and we all have struggles, we all have setbacks, and I want to help them so they can be strong for their children. When you give women the tools, I believe they are unstoppable."
In her new capacity with Heartisans, Williams schedules job training, volunteer work, transportation, tutoring, budgeting, counseling and Bible study with women. She does this both one-on-one and in a group setting. She schedules legal, medical, dental, vision appointments. She is the one who moves them through the program to career placement.
Williams is the founder and CEO of Youth Unlimited Youth Resources, the former director of programs for Martin Charities Thrive360, a member of Longview Junior League, youth director at Post Oak Baptist Church and a member of the local NAACP chapter. She is also a mentor with Longview's Partners in Prevention-Forever Friends, Youth Action Committee, Workforce Youth Advisory Council and Ladies With a Purpose.
Heartisans is a nonprofit organization on the corner of West Methvin and High streets in Longview. Heartisans volunteers along with women in the program make a variety of products sold in the marketplace. Money from the marketplace helps bring more women into the program, which helps get them ready to take the ACT WorkKeys test, which many employers in the area require.
But like most nonprofits, money is always tight.
This is why Julee Rachels, Heartisans CEO/founder, said she is grateful that the Zonta Club of Greater East Texas recently donated $5,000 to Heartisans that allowed the organization to create the program director position. Heartisans paired the Zonta donation with money it had saved up to hire Williams.
"We want to send such a huge thank you to Zonta (Club of Greater East Texas)," Rachels said. "It is huge to have the community support us this way. We put money down on a new program director for our job training program. Their donations will help tremendously. It just gets us that much closer to where we need to be for funding this year."
Martha Glasgow, the publicity chairwoman for the Zonta Club of Greater East Texas, said Heartisans Marketplace fits the description of a program the club would support.
"Our goal is to identify local needs in the community and give women that need a hand up not a handout, and work with nonprofits to funnel those funds through," Glasgow said. "Heartisans matched up with what we want to do. They are helping young women who are homeless, on the street, who are having a hard time in their life. They train them and help them get jobs ... They help with medical care and dental care. They do great work."
Heartisans is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday. To reach the nonprofit organization, call (903) 431-1188.