Women’s Employment Project Changes Its Name

A new name may be just the thing one Door County organization needs to move forward. That’s what the staff of the Women’s Employment Project, Inc. (WEP), are hoping after unveiling a new name for the nonprofit: We Are HOPE, Inc. (HOPE stands for Helping Others Prosper and Excel).

The Women’s Employment Project, Inc. (WEP), has been working to improve the lives of people in Door County for years, but since it began in 1978 has switched its focus from strictly women’s employment to helping everyone in need get access to job help, transportation and housing needs. The nonprofit’s dated name made it hard to reach out to many of the people it could help.

“It’s a bit of a challenge trying to market an organization when people don’t know the organization,” said Gina Wautier, development manager. “They know the stuff we do, they don’t know who’s responsible for doing it.”

HOPE works on three initiatives: employment, home improvement and transportation. It runs the Door County Job Center in Sturgeon Bay, helps people pay for heating costs and weatherize homes to save on energy bills, and get transportation to and from work.

Back when it was named WEP, the nonprofit worked with women from agricultural backgrounds to prepare them for work in other industries. “It was part of a U.S. Department of Labor grant to help women from agriculture backgrounds and agriculture roots in order to get educated and diversify their opportunities to advance their careers,” said Sandy Duckett, HOPE executive director. “They saw a need in this area where there are many family farms, many women who grew up on farms and didn’t have those opportunities without education.”

As the needs of the community and available funding sources changed, so did the organization.

When Duckett became executive director, she and Wautier surveyed staff, clients and the board of directors for input on a new organization name. The final question asked people to describe the organization’s work with just one word.

“Certainly the word ‘hope’ was a common theme from that response,” Duckett said.

The acronym only strengthened the “hope” concept, and the new logo helps visualize what the organization is about. The logo was designed by Sue Schinkten of Schinkten Design, who said, “HOPE is a solid color word. I used blue because it is a calm and welcoming color. The free-flowing ribbon weaves in and out of ‘HOPE’ showing a smooth and flowing transition to a new life. With the aid of ‘HOPE’ you can achieve your goals and become a ‘star’ of your goals and aspirations.”

That message rings true for the nonprofit staff who are ready to see the organization fulfill its new name.

“We needed a logo that shows what we are, not what we were,” Wautier said.