Women on the Way Supports Students Start to Finish


Woman on the way

Scholarships made through the SPC Foundation are awarded each year to students in Women on the Way

Students involved in SPC's Women on the Way program have access to scholarships, resume workshops, tutoring, a clothing boutique and holiday gifts for themselves and their families.

"We are about providing all kinds of support for our students and helping them find other resources in the community," said Shirley Crumbley, coordinator of Women on the Way. "We help them with what we can on our end to make sure they can graduate or get their certificate." But perhaps the most important resource offered at Women on the Way is care.

"When our students come in, we love on them. We provide coffee, snacks and give them pep talks," Crumbley added. The program serves an average number of 600 students a year.

"The first student we helped was living out of her car," she said. "It's hard to think about passing a math test or writing a paper when you are trying to keep a roof over your head or food on the table."

Women on the Way is open to any student enrolled at SPC, including men. There is no income level or other credentials required to join. To be eligible for scholarships, however, students must stay in class, get tutoring and take part in programming such as resume building or leadership workshops.

Scholarships, made possible through the SPC Foundation, are given every term. About 100 scholarships are awarded ranging from $100 to $3,000. Just under half of the students benefiting from WOW are 36 years old or older. Many have families, so WOW makes sure to help out at the holidays. This year 38 students were adopted by faculty, alumni and friends of the college so they and their families could have gifts at the holidays. They picked them up a week before Christmas.

SPC's Clearwater campus has housed a "boutique" with free clothing for students in need since 1981. Crumbley and other Women on the Way staff and volunteers spent years shuttling clothing to different campuses for workshops so all students had access at least occasionally. Other times, students took one or two busses to get to the Clearwater boutique. Since then, Women on the Way was able to open permanent boutiques at the Midtown, Tarpon Springs, Seminole and Gibbs campuses between 2015 and 2017.

The clothes are donated by faculty, other students, alumni and anyone else in the community. During the COVID pandemic, donors are asked to call 727-791-2555 or 727-791-2634 to arrange to drop off items. The boutiques need casual and professional clothes, as well as toiletries including feminine products. Helping a student get ready for a job interview or first day of work is one of Crumbley's favorite parts of her job.

"I wear the stylist hat, the mom hat, the disciplinary hat, the interview coach hat and the coordinator hat," she said. "I love being there for whatever they need."