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'Word is catching on' about Women’s Fund

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Stacy Vogel
May 9, 2008
— Organizers of the YWCA Transitional Living Program noticed many single mothers weren’t getting jobs or educations.

It cost less, the mothers told them, to stay home and take care of their children than find daycare and get out in the community.


While that made short-term financial sense, it wasn’t going to help the women succeed in the long run, said Kerri Parker, executive director of the YWCA of Rock County.


The organization created a job program to help clients build resumes, learn interview skills and go back to school. The program was so successful in its first three years that the YWCA wanted to take it community-wide.


That’s where the Women’s Fund stepped in.


The Women’s Fund was created in 2003 under the umbrella of the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin. It is creating an endowment fund for projects that help women and girls.


Last fall, the Women’s Fund awarded its first grant to the YWCA to create the Women’s Economic Empowerment Center.


Thursday, nearly 300 women and a handful of men learned about what the Women’s Fund has accomplished through the YWCA and others at its third annual luncheon at the Pontiac Convention Center.


The Women’s Economic Empowerment Center helps women not only achieve employment but also achieve success, said Martha Pearson, Transitional Living Program director.


“When you move from unemployment, you don’t move to ‘successful,’” she said. “You move to underemployment.”


With the help of the $5,000 grant, the center has established a base at the First Congregational Church, 54 S. Jackson St. It bought a bank of computers and soon will start offering computer workshops. It also has collected donated business clothes for women to wear on job interviews.


“This whole revisioning happened because of the catalyst of the Women’s Fund grant,” Parker said.


The Women’s Fund invited community members to the luncheon to learn what it’s about in the hopes of convincing them to contribute. It asked prominent women to serve as table leaders and invite their friends to fill the tables.


Female community leaders from all walks of life, including the government, business and nonprofit sectors, could be spotted milling around the convention center and sampling chicken salad and chocolate cake.


Sue Conley, executive director of the Community Foundation, estimated the crowd was at least 30 percent bigger than last year.


Lynn Gardinier was serving as a table leader this year after attending last year’s luncheon as a guest. She was impressed by the large turnout, she said.


“Word is catching on,” she said.


Contacts

For more information about the Women’s Fund, call the Community Foundation at (608) 755-0883 or visit www.cfsw.org/womensfund.asp.


To learn more about the Women’s Economic Empowerment Center, call the YWCA at (608) 752-5445.


Women’s Education Sessions

The Women’s Fund hosts a series of educational sessions. Here’s a list of upcoming sessions. To register, call (608) 758-0883 or e-mail wendy@cfsw.org.


-- “Excuses and Remedies to Fulfill Your Fitness Goals”—6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 15, at the YWCA CARE House, 1126 Conde St., Janesville.


-- “Wise, Fearless and Wonderful Women”: Folktales about women and girls from around the world—6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 24, at the YWCA, 1735 S. Washington St., Janesville.


-- “Strong Women of Janesville’s Past”—11:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 11, at the Lincoln-Tallman House grounds, 426 N. Jackson St., Janesville.


-- “Hardware Handy Women”—9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, at Dave’s Ace Hardware, 430 S. John Paul Road, Milton.



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