I first joined the steering committee for United Way of Greater Stark County’s Women United (formerly Women’s Leadership Council) in January 2014, and in April 2019, I became chair.
While serving on the steering committee, I assisted with creating a new strategic plan for Women United. We revised our mission to: “Women United engages women in creating opportunities for supporting the emotional and intellectual growth of women and children with a focus on moving families out of poverty.”
As part of the new strategic plan, we established an advocacy committee, which I serve on currently. We are one of the first Women United networks in Ohio to enter the area of advocacy. We launched our first advocacy training session in May 2018, and we are in the process of finalizing a policy platform that we will use to build relationships with our state and local representatives.
As part of our advocacy efforts, we established in 2017 our annual Family Friendly Workplace Awards, which coincides with National Work and Family Month in October. The event highlights the mutual benefit for workplaces and employees in creating family-friendly policies. It also provides employers a better understanding of the work-life needs of their employees. The event features a keynote speaker and recognizes three local companies that have implemented family-friendly workplace policies.
In addition to our advocacy initiative, we have a signature project we are launching shortly in assisting The Ways to Work program. We will provide additional support for women who receive car loans through The Ways to Work program by offering them incentives after they’ve made successful car payments each six months. The incentives may include oil changes, car repairs up to $300 or assistance with insurance. In addition, $100 will be added to a savings account after a set of months of successful loan payments. A program like Ways to Work addresses transportation one of the biggest barriers for employment.
By volunteering through Women United, I’m able to utilize my professional talents to now help other women move from poverty to more financial stability in their lives. I worked for The University of Akron Wayne College (regional campus) for more than 20 years in workforce development and continuing education. Prior to my work at the university, I was the executive director of a community agency funded by United Way of Greater Stark County.
As a donor, I support United Way because they look at what services and programs can have systemic change in our community. While the need to address emergency assistance is important, we must address the underlying issues that cause the continuing emergency needs.
Help to create lasting change in our community by finding local volunteer opportunities and other ways to get involved.