Fundraiser Nov. 10 supports ‘Women to Work’

By: Andy Kozlowski | Southfield Sun | Published November 10, 2022

 This year’s Trade Secrets will feature Brenda Naomi Rosenberg, a Detroit fashion industry executive who worked to unite people against hate in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

This year’s Trade Secrets will feature Brenda Naomi Rosenberg, a Detroit fashion industry executive who worked to unite people against hate in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Photo provided by Gesher Human Services

SOUTHFIELD — A local fundraiser supports a program that helps women re-enter the workforce after significant, life-changing events, such as family deaths, divorce or disability.

Now in its 14th year, the event, Trade Secrets, raises money for Women to Work, a program through Gesher Human Services in Southfield. This year’s event will take place starting at 6 p.m. Nov. 10 at Detroit Marriott Troy.

During the past 13 years, Trade Secrets has raised more than $2.2 million for the cause, while the Women to Work program has helped more than 2,000 women in the metro Detroit area. The women undergo intensive assessment, testing and job search training aimed at giving them confidence, market-ready skills and goals to pursue.

This year’s Trade Secrets will feature Brenda Naomi Rosenberg, a Detroit fashion industry executive who worked to unite people against hate in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Rosenberg also hired the first female Black executive in Detroit, as well as the first Black models for Saks Fifth Avenue in Detroit.

“Women to Work is about helping women to find a different path, and one of the most important ways is by empowering women to get back into the workforce, and then being able to live the lives they choose,” Rosenberg said in a statement. “There is no such thing as failure — it’s just feedback. Try another way.”

This year’s event will also honor Yolanda Lewis, a May 2022 graduate of Women to Work. Lewis, a resident of Southfield, lost her job at an agency caring for seniors when the pandemic struck. She also had to deal with her own health issues. She learned about Gesher Human Services while attending Michigan Rehabilitation Services and thought Women to Work could help her.

“I learned so much,” Lewis said via email. “Then, after Women to Work, I took a financial literacy class, also at Gesher Human Services, and managed to get my credit score from 520 to 710. The organization has been a great support to me.”

Today she is starting a paid internship with a human resources department at a local school.

As in years past, Trade Secrets will feature a raffle with prizes such as a $2,500 Somerset Collection shopping spree. There will be about a dozen raffle baskets with event tickets, jewelry, spa treatments and more. Other prizes include a small group reading with renowned psychic medium Rebecca Rosen, complete with a signed copy of her book, and a My Flight Tours helicopter ride for four over the Ambassador River in Detroit.

It’s all to support Women to Work’s mission helping the unemployed find their way.

“One of the major challenges that women face if they’ve been out of the workforce for some time is the ability to conduct an active and successful job search,” Judy Richmond, a coordinator for Women to Work and an employment specialist at Gesher Human Services, said in an email. “They may be unfamiliar with current technology for getting a job, their resume might not be effective, and they might have difficulty in presenting themselves in a positive manner.

“Some of the issues that bring women to the program are divorce, bereavement, disability of a spouse or partner, loss of a stable job — all unexpected situations which threw them into a tailspin,” she said. “A frequent comment I hear is, ‘I don’t know where to begin — I feel lost.’ Many of these women feel that they are the only person going through their situation, that they are the only ones who feel so despondent. But then they learn so many skills, gain the support of other women in a group experience, and build connections. The result is they become so much more motivated and confident.”

Women to Work is a free program. To enroll, email Judy Richmond at jrichmond@geshermi.org or call (248) 233-4232. The next program starts with an informational meeting Jan. 12 at Gesher’s Southfield headquarters, 29699 Southfield Road. The program is eight sessions, and the classes are from 9 a.m. to noon twice a week.

Those unable to attend Trade Secrets can still donate to the cause by visiting jvshumanservices.org/events/trade-secrets and clicking on “Sponsor.”