The Power of Women Builds Better Communities

March is Women’s History Month, and it’s just amazing what women can do! They inspire and lead; they mentor and protect; and when they join forces and set a goal, there are no limits to what they can accomplish. At the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, we’ve witnessed firsthand the power of women. Fifteen years ago, 60 concerned women came together to ensure that women and girls of all ages in Middlesex County had a path to self-reliance and achieving their full potential. The group, energized by a commitment to help others, reached out to family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues to raise awareness and funds to support positive programs in our community. In twelve short months, they established the Fund for Women & Girls at the Community Foundation and awarded their first grant in 2002. Now known as the Sari A. Rosenbaum Fund for Women & Girls, it has awarded 85 grants totaling more than $165,000 to programs that address critical issues and create opportunities for educational, economic, and social growth for our region’s women and girls.

The issues and need for assistance continue to be great.  Women working full time earn only 77% of what men earn. One out of seven American women lives in poverty, and women are more likely than men to face the indignity of domestic abuse, inadequate housing, and sub-standard health care. Yet, despite this harsh reality, less than 6% of charitable giving goes to programs specifically targeted to women and girls. That is where the Sari A. Rosenbaum Fund for Women & Girls comes in, with grant awards to programs that focus on job training, health care, conflict resolution, parenting skills, domestic violence, and mentoring.

Some of the grants have seeded new programs, such as Epoch Arts’ “Breaking Silences” and Rushford’s “Girl Talk,” which establish safe, creative spaces for girls to find their voices, gain confidence and make lasting friendships. Other grants have helped re-establish intergenerational communities where young and old come together to support one another and build a stronger community, such as the Westbrook Youth & Family Services “Community Connections” project, while others have ensured that women and girls can find a way out of domestic violence through the New Horizons Domestic Violence Shelter.  Program support is also given so that older women can learn new technologies for a changing workforce; that women and girls who have experienced trauma have access to therapeutic services; and that mothers and daughters have opportunities to develop stronger relationships while having fun. By providing women and girls the opportunity to succeed and to help one another, the Fund  continues the tradition of mentoring, inspiring, and leading each new generation, and has forever changed the lives of all of us.

We salute the vision and commitment of those 60 founding donors and all those who provide support and partnership to improve the quality of life throughout Middlesex County. Their work is yet another great example of the power of grass roots alliances, the spirit of the Community Foundation, and the strength found in building community for today and tomorrow – TOGETHER. To learn more about the great things being done by good people in your community, call us at 860-347-0025 or email us at  info@MiddlesexCountyCF.org.

 

This article was previously published in March, 2016,  in both the Valley Courier and the Harbor News.

 

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