Women’s Opportunity Center forced to layoff staff

Local News

This week, the Onondaga and Tompkins County Women’s Opportunity Center (WOC) was forced to lay off its entire work staff — not including two managers — due to a financial emergency.

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Since March, the Department of Labor has defaulted on grants and therefore been unable to fund the NYS Displaced Homemaker Program, which normally accounts for 40% of the WOC’s yearly income.

“This is the absolute worst time for NYS to be reneging on its commitment to us, we are working with clients non-stop who, due to unemployment, are facing homelessness and fighting to feed their families,” said Ryan Harriott, Executive Director of the Tompkins County WOC. “Our organization, but more importantly our clients, are in desperate need of community support while we wait on our state government to fulfill its debt.”

The WOC is a non-profit organization serving clients in Ithaca and Syracuse that offers free programs and services to advance women’s success in the workplace by providing employability skill training.

As a result of the financial emergency, the WOC laid off eight staff members and surrendered the Syracuse office to be fully remote.

Despite the mass layoff, the WOC is still providing its employability services to clients through the Tompkins County Executive Director, Onondaga County Program Director, and its vast network of volunteers.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Central New York’s unemployment rate has increased 269 percent since the start of the year—making WOC services all the more crucial to the community.

The WOC is accepting donations online at http://www.womensopportunity.org/ or by mail to 315 N. Tioga St. Ithaca, NY 14850.

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