Helping Women and Girls Get to Work, Pursue their Dreams and Find Bonds in the Community

Six organizations received a total of $35,984 from the Women’s Fund in 2019 to support programs that help women and girls. 

Three of those awards went to programs focused on employment. For example, an $8,000 grant to Catholic Charities of Broome County funded emergency assistance to help women fuel their cars, buy work uniforms, reserve spots in day care or otherwise overcome financial obstacles that might keep them from their jobs. 

Safe Streets, a Binghamton nonprofit, put a $2,734 grant from the Fund toward a series of workshops in skills such as auto maintenance and furniture repair, which women can use to find work, or just to become more self-sufficient. And at the Family and Children’s Society in Binghamton, a $2,250 grant helps women with mental health diagnoses update their wardrobes or hairstyles as they look for jobs. 

“Self-esteem is tied to appearance,” says Wendy Hitchcock, who, at the time the Fund made the award, supervised the organization’s Vocational Incentives Program. “This grant will give women a real boost in their confidence, so they can take on the world.” 

A new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classroom at the Girl Scouts’ Camp Ahamami in Deposit could help girls discover new interests and, perhaps, future careers. The Women’s Fund awarded $8,000 for a solar installation that will power this “science lab in the woods,” while also providing a way to teach about energy. 

“Girl Scouts is all about helping girls find what they’re passionate about,” says Joanne Morak, development director and grants manager at Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways, which operates the camp. 

Some woman veterans making the transition to civilian life found opportunities to connect with and support one another, thanks to Veterans Opportunity for Integration and Community Engagement (VOICE), a program at the Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park. Working with local artist Emily Jablon, the women created a mosaic in the enclosure housing the zoo’s amur leopards and snow leopards. The Women’s Fund supported the project with $8,000. 

“One reason we’re looking at female veterans in particular is that they’re often overlooked,” says Phillip Ginter, executive director of the Southern Tier Zoological Society. In launching VOICE, zoo officials hoped that some of the woman vets who came to work on the mural would stay on to volunteer at the zoo, using skills developed in the service to form new connections in the community. 

Photo of women gathered around tables at a Chop and Chat eventSenior women make connections at Chop and Chat, a program launched in 2016 by Faith in Action Volunteers at the Broome County Council of Churches (BCCC). Led by program coordinator Larese Isaacson, and held twice a month at each of eight senior centers and senior living facilities, Chop and Chat assembles participants to do prep work for healthy meals. BCCC supplies the ingredients. Seniors—nearly all of them women—socialize while they chop fresh produce. Then each takes her own portion away to cook at home. BCCC used a $7,000 grant from the Women’s Fund mainly to buy ingredients for the meals. 

“Food insecurity and social isolation are two of the top risks of aging,” says Susan Spencer, program director for Faith in Action volunteers. Chop and Chat helps to alleviate both. 

Year after year at the Women’s Fund, we’re excited to see how much good our relatively small but carefully-chosen investments can accomplish for women and girls.

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