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WomanOf The Month 3-09: April Stensgard
by Tara Becker

Hyper-tasking is the word that epitomizes April Stensgard. She uses this word to describe herself because multi-tasking just doesn’t depict all the things that moms have to juggle at once.

April is a mom of two young girls and a wife of sixteen years, which is like most moms. She struggles with the daily managing of getting kids off to school, running the household, finding time for her marriage and then, switching gears to be a productive ‘career mom’.

There is a new generation of moms emerging who are ready to ramp up their careers, but feel unprepared to navigate their way back into the job market. So, one year ago she started Mom Job Seeker to offer job preparation training for moms looking for work, but on their own terms. April understands the frustration and confusion that women can feel when attempting to steer their way in the job market both during and after raising children. Convinced that it doesn’t have to be that way, she launched Mom Job Seeker with the innovative CareerCamps to help moms find flexible work that supports their lifestyle. Mom Job Seeker provides practical job preparation for moms with tools and resources while keeping a life balance between family and work. So, whether you’re looking for a flexible part-time or full-time job but don’t know where to start? Asking yourself, “what’s next?apostrophe Revamping your computer skills. Or unsure of how to translate your ‘Mom’ skills into an interview or into the workplace?

What’s more, April uses her passion to help moms by partnering with her native Kenyan friends to help bring hope and resources to widows in Kenya. She explained to me that her love for Kenya started through a reconnection with her husband’s Kenyan friend, Francis, from 20 years ago. Francis had started an orphanage called Shangilia Children’s Home. On her first trip four years ago, she was fortunate to visit with the ladies of the village around the orphanage. She wanted to hear first-hand about their hopes and dreams for themselves and their families. What they told her was that their main wish was to have enough food to feed their children and be able to send them to school. You see in Kenya, you must pay the government in order to send your child to school and most families can’t afford it.

As a mom, she could empathize with their desire to provide for their children. Her passion for women, career development and business was aroused. She began to dream what might be possible if they could start their own businesses because the unemployment rate is 70%. Their faces lit up with the sense of any opportunity. April and her husband worked with Francis and other Kenyan leaders to create a sustainable model for a micro-business program. The non-profit is called SEDA, which means “push me upapostrophe.

It took three years, but the first set of small business loans were awarded last fall. The widows were so eager to flourish. One in particular, they call 10 mile lady, because she literally walked 10 miles to participate in the group trainings to qualify for her loan. Her name is Esnas and has since started a farming business. So far there has been a 100% repayment rate.

16 out of the 22 widows in the group have AIDS and are regaining their dignity through their successful businesses. They are being looked upon as business leaders, not looked down upon because of AIDS.

Other projects that their non-profit has been involved in is; a water system, medical clinics, school scholarships, school uniforms and additional dorms for the children at the orphanage.
April has brought several people to Kenya to give their time, talents, support and long-term friendship in order to help the widows start small businesses so they can realize their dreams of becoming self-sufficient.

To keep her sanity, April can be found hiking the hills behind her home in Highlands Ranch, meeting with other career-minded moms to ‘compare notes’ over a grande cup of caramel macchiato and has made a second career out of ‘doing lunch!’

For more information on Mom Job Seeker, please visit www.momjobseeker.com and Love For Kenya, go to www.loveforkenya.com.