Involved and making a difference.
Marty was one of the 10 founding members helping to lead the growth of the group to more than double the number of participants and thereby, the amount of grants. Participants now number more than 50.
Through the power of collective philanthropy and collaboration, The Women's Giving Circle (WGC) of Southwest Florida seeks to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged women and their family in Collier and Lee Counties.
She foresaw it as a way to expand the Close Friend Foundation’s focus on children’s well-being. The 10 founders chose to keep the organization small the first two years as they created a mission, policies, grant process, and organization structure. The first year, each woman put in $1000, enabling them to award $10,000 in grants, some of which of went to PACE Center for Girls in Lee County and the remainder to The Shelter for Abused Women and Children.
The mission of The Women’s Giving Circle of Southwest Florida is to improve the quality of the lives of disadvantaged women and their families in Lee and Collier Counties, through collective giving and collaboration.
Fast forward to 2016-17, the WGC has grown to 55 members, each of whom paid in $1000, which enabled the group to collectively grant $55,000 to five organizations that serve disadvantaged women and children in Southwest Florida.
Grantees for 2017-2018:
Wings of Shelter (Housing for Women and Girls)
Wings of Shelter is dedicated to the intervention in, and prevention of, child sex trafficking across our city, country, and the globe. To do this in SWFL, Wings of Shelter operates Safe Houses located in Lee County, FL for female victims of domestic minor sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. Our grant of $13,500 will support their Safe House expansion program and enable them to acquire and open a third Safe House facility by the end of 2017. This will increase their total capacity from five residents to eight residents at any one time. With the length of stay in the program averaging 4.5 months, expanding to a third facility would increase the average number of girls served from 13 per year to 21 per year. The funds cover start-up costs for this additional house, including first and last month’s rent, security deposit, and basic furnishings for the house.
Dress for Success (Education of Women)
The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women through network support, career development, and provision of professional attire. Our grant of $15,000 supports their “Women Empowered Through Employment” (WETES) 6-week education program, which is a series designed to help women develop professional skills and accelerate their job searches. It includes one-on-one coaching and networking. This program series is to be repeated three times during the year and its purpose is to provide training sessions, mentoring and workshops covering job search planning, transferable job skills, crafting the perfect resume, cover letters, presenting best self, etc. thereby increasing job securing success.
Sunlight Home (Education of Women and Teens)
Sunlight of Collier County is a residential maternity home that provides a safe, loving, family atmosphere that serves pregnant women and teens. Our grant of $3,600 will support their Financial Independence Program, which will offer teacher-assisted training for each resident to help them understand what it takes to manage their paycheck to fit their financial needs. The nine-session program will also focus on teaching residents how to plan for their financial future, including learning such skills as how to be financially stable and debt-free, how to build credit, and how to set financial goals.
Legal Aid (Legal Aid for Women and Children)
Legal Aid provides high-quality, free, civil legal advice, representation, and education to residents of Collier County. Services are based on need. Our grant of $13,000 will provide some additional manpower to support the Legal Services to Victims Project, which is designed to provide safety and stability to victims of sexual assault and other abuse. The funds will add 1/3 of a paralegal to focus on the timely provision of injunctions and restraining orders, and to represent clients in custody and divorce proceedings. The purpose of the program is to lessen the number of Collier residents going without legal assistance and diminish the time it takes to secure injunctions in fighting sexual assault and other abuse.
Literacy Volunteers (Education of Parents and Children)
Literacy Volunteers conducts one-on-one group workplace literacy, family literacy, and citizenship classes. Our $10,400 grant will support the Children and Parents Reading Together (CPRT) program that focuses on at-risk 4-year olds attending Head Start Pre-K classes. The program will operate in up to 10 Head Start Schools. Fifty percent of Collier 4-year-olds live in a home where no English is spoken. This program will help to address this issue by having mothers and their children learn to read and write English by confirming letters and words, and through regular reading at home. Participants will retain books used in the program thus providing a start on a family library. The goal of the program is to improve reading and writing skills for children and their mothers, and to enhance parenting skills by encouraging a parent’s participation in their child’s learning.
Since its founding, Women's Giving Circle has continued to grow and add capability. The group now has a website, and Marty started a monthly newsletter (November-April) to help keep members informed and engaged.
As a small start-up, the WGC is currently hosted by the Community Foundation of Collier County Funds.
For more information, see www.cfcollier.org/donate-now/
For more information on the Women’s Giving Circle of SWFL, see the website here.