women face are a lack of self-confidence
and a lack of knowledge about the job
market," Creswell said.
"We are getting super speakers from
the community—the business world, academic world, banking and finance and
legal—to participate in our program," Elfant explained. "In the past we've had
counselors from the Texas Employment
Commission, Houston Community College, temporary employment services and
personnel representatives from various
"It is important to have community
support. The people in the community
who have helped us with the workshops
have been really excited about their
contributions and want to see the program continued."
One of the results of the community
involvement has been an increase and an
upgrade in the quality of job orders coming in ior women in the program, Elfant said. "It is a two-way street. Personnel from companies have gotten to
see the type of people who are participating in the program and now they
are calling us.
"It takes this much time to become
established. At first calls came in for
jobs wanting slave labor with little benefits. They thought that was all these
women could do. Now we are getting a
higher quality of job orders—from banks
which have teller training programs,
the county auditor's office, department stores, corporations and groups who
value the mature woman."
While the center does not offer an
actual job placement service, it does
refer women to the companies which
have called in with job orders and
provides one-to-one job counseling for
those who desire it. "We help them with
their initial job search and filling out
application forms," Elfant said. "We are
encouraging this kind of activity from
the women and it has been on the increase."
Women with special needs or problems
are referred to other supportive agencies
in the community for assistance. The
center also publishes a newsletter after
each workshop keeping past participants
up-to-date on activities and information
and inviting them to a "graduation party"
for the current group. "This helps
strengthen our network," Elfant explained.
The center has also begun a follow-up
program. "After six months we telephone
past workshop participants to find out if
they are working, what their perceptions
are about the program, if it worked for
them, if they have moved and how they
,are doing generally," Creswell said.
"We need to wait six months before^
we do this because this gives the women
time to examine and process the information they have received in the workshops," Elfant explained. "They have had
time to think about their skills and interests, what direction they want to go, if
they need extra education or training.
"This is a very intense program. Some
of the women have been so isolated and
have never been exposed to the work
world before and all the information we
supply. It is brand new to them. They
cannot take it all in in four weeks. We
encourage them to go to as many other
career-oriented workshops as possible
so they get repetition of the material, to
have it reinforced, until it become part
"We also encourage the women to
join other groups, church organizations
or singles clubs, to get out of isolation
and learn social skills and how to be with
At the present time Creswell is busy
studying TEA and CETA regulations
to apply for funding so the center can
operate for another year and the counselors are thinking of ways to improve the
workshops and expand the program.
During the past year the counselors
had a one-week period between the work
shop to plan and implement new ideas.
Elfant said two weeks between workshops would be ideal so that the counselors could conduct more mini-workshops at other locations and have re^
The center had one recruitment week
this past year which was very successful,
according to Elfant. "We invited personnel representatives from various companies to come in and talk about job
opportunities with their firms and set up
interviews," she explained. "We would
like to do this several times a year."
In addition to the center workshops,
counselors have conducted several mini-
workshops at the Downtown YWCA,
Blue Triangle YWCA and Gulf Coast
Community Services in Galena Park.
"At these workshops we concentrate
on job readiness, the job market, job
placement and obtaining credit," Elfant said. "They have been very successful. Once the network got out, other
groups have called us to conduct workshops." Elfant hopes to do more mini-
workshops next year if the extra time
will be available.
Creswell added that she would like
the center to conduct more workshops
in the black and Mexican-American
communities to serve the special needs of
these women. "We have had very few
minorities in our workshops," she said.
"We need to get out closer to where they
are. The idea of coming to the university
may seem overwhelming to some and
they do not come in here. These women
have less means and different things are
frightening to them."
Going out into the community would
require additional staff members, as
would other programs Creswell would
like to implement and expand if she
could fulfill all her dreams. "We would
like to have a full-time placement counselor to help women find jobs. We need
someone to schedule programs, and a
public relations person to get out publicity, so the counselors can work full-time
with the women," Creswell said.
"We need a psychologist to help those
women who have really serious problems.
We would like more graduate students
from the school of social work to do intern work and research. The center could
be a learning center for people in the
academic community. There is very little
research in this area right now and we
need more data to see what areas of our
progress need to be changed, retained and
strengthened, to help these women."
Although the Houston Center for Displaced Homemakers is still so new and in
the process of tightening its goals and getting feedback from past workshop participants, the counselors have seen progress
during the past year. A network has been
formed, better job orders are coming in,
their services are in demand, and they can
see personal growth in the women during
the course of the four week workshops.
"We see positive changes in the way
some of the women feel about themselves from the first day they come in.
At first they may not feel part of the
group or have fear and anxiety," Elfant said. "One woman practically
sat outside the door of the room at
first. Now she is calling speakers and
organizing activities. It is very gratifying to see these changes."
The Houston Center for Displaced
Homemakers is located in the Jeppeson
Annex on the University of Houston
Central Campus. Interested women may
contact the center at 749-3755 or
Hildegard Warner is a UH journalism student and a former student intern at
Who Remembers Mama?, an award winning documentary examining the
problems faced by displaced homemakers, will be telecast over Channel 8, Tuesday, July 3, at 10:30 p.m. The film portrays the emotional and financial devastation experienced by these women when they lose their roles as homemakers
One east coast reviewer called Who Remembers Mama? a disturbing film. He gave;
it a poor review because the subject matter offended him and he did not know
how to deal with it-much like many parents who find films portraying nude
bodies or containing four-letter words offensive.
Who Remembers Mama? is a disturbing film, because it throws out alarming
divorce statistics, the number of displaced homemakers affected by these dissolved marriages, the salary differentials between working men and women and
the high percentage of ex-husbands who fall behind in their child support payments.
Who Remembers Mama? deals with emotions—hurts, angers, guilts, feelings
of inadequacy, frustrations— of real people. The only actors in the film portray
Bob and Bernice Marlowe in a divorce courtroom. The lawyers, the judge, the
psychologist, the congressman, the nightclub comic, the displaced homemakers
are real, not actors.
The courtroom scenes depict the actualities of our adversary system of justice
as a game in which one person wins and one loses. The one who gets custody of
the children is the one who gets "better packaging as a parent." "The lawyer did
a better selling job to the judge," admitted one attorney interviewed.
The struggles and emotions of the displaced homemakers themselves tell the
story. "I have no hope. I don't know where to go."
"I was taught to put my children first, my husband second, and myself third.
I was cheated."
"I have been thrown on the scrap heap."
"I had four children. I loved him very much. I failed as a woman. "
"When the judge said the children would go to their father, I felt I would die.
In the eyes of the law in this country, I am not those children's mother."
"My food stamp card is in my purse next to my Junior League card."
"I was turned down for 34 straight jobs." "My psychiatrist said 7/ you live
through this . . .' "
"I told the children if they came to live with me, I would not take any child
support. We would go it alone."
"At least not having the children frees me from that time each month when I
had to ask 'Is it (the child support check) coming today?' 'will it be here tomorrow, next week, or not at all?' "
Every woman of high school age and above should sit down and watch Who
Remembers Mama? on July 3. Then dialogue about it— to their best friend, their
husband or lover, their sister or mother, their church women's group, their coworkers, their neighbors. That is what the film makers intended to happen. Their
purpose in making the film was to provoke discussions of current marital laws
and customs, divorce and property settlements, child custody and support,
ageism, employment discrimination and sexism.
This award-winning documentary was written and co-produced by Cynthia
Salzman Mondell and Allen Mondell through KERA-TV in Dallas/Fort Worth,
with support from the Dallas chapter of Women in Communications, Inc.
(WICI). It was aired nationally over public television stations in April. Who
Remembers Mama? was awarded the 1978 Silver Gavel Award by the American
Bar Association, was a finalist at the American Film Festival and received an
honorable mention in the WICI Clarion Awards competition. Major funding was
provided through a grant from the Texas Committee for the Humanities and the
National Endowment for the Humanities. The Houston showing July 3 is produced by Southwest Alternate Media Project as part of their "Territory" series
on Channel 8. - H.W.