Area woman benefit from “Step Up” program

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- About 50 poverty stricken women are getting a fresh start in their lives after outstanding warrants for traffic and parking tickets have been wiped from their records. They are beneficiaries of an annual program called "Step Up."

The women are all either victims of domestic violence living in shelters, or single parents receiving help from Operation Breakthrough.

Shikina Turner has three children and is receiving job training from Operation Breakthrough. But during the last year, she estimates that she's gotten about eight tickets for minor infractions ranging from parking violations to driving without insurance. She doesn't want to ride the bus with three young kids. The fines on her tickets totaled several hundred dollars, money she didn't have and can't pay. As a result, outstanding warrants kept her from getting a good job and moving forward in her life.

"With employment, a job I wanted, you couldn't have no warrants, a driving job you can't have any tickets," Turner explained. "So once I heard about the program, I went there and they basically, when I got there, they dismissed all my charges."

The Association of Women Lawyers helped Turner clear outstanding warrants and charges that were preventing her from getting a job, finding a place to live and being eligible for other social service benefits. Volunteer lawyers resolved 170 outstanding tickets in all, getting women probation and community service for speeding and parking violations that have hung over their heads for years.

As a condition of probation, the women must go to classes to build a life plan and develop job search skills that teach them how to dress for an interview and how to prepare a resume.

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