Six years ago, a group of women came together to put their philanthropic dollars where they thought they would be most needed in El Dorado County.
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On June 6, the Empire Ballroom at the Wedgewood Sequoia Mansion in Placerville was overflowing with members eager to learn the results of their awards to 2012 recipients and who would be receiving funds for the upcoming year. The awardees are selected by vote of each of the members.
Cabinet Chair Maureen Carter informed the audience that in the six years since founding, the Women’s Fund provided $250,000 to not-for-profit organizations dedicated to helping people in El Dorado County. At the same time, the Women’s Fund has created an endowment of $240,000, which will assure a stable funding base for the future.
The Women’s Fund El Dorado philanthropy is provided by member donations and administered by the El Dorado Community Foundation. The money is backed by volunteer work on 10 supporting committees.
A total of $50,000 a year is now put to work in the community. Focus grants total $40,000 and Impact grants amount to $10,000.
Women’s Fund dollars hard at work in 2012
Each year, the Women’s Fund awards Focus grants, Impact grants and scholarships.
Grants Chair Robyn Parker introduced representatives from 2012 Focus grantees, who reported to the Women’s Fund members on how their active concern affected the recipients.
New Morning Youth and Family Services, $17,500–David Ashby, Executive Director
New Morning is one of the first community-based not-for-profit services to open in El Dorado County. In 1970, New Morning began providing counseling and shelter for teen drug users and runaways. Through the years, services have expanded to families and schools.
Ashby reported on the grant received to provide school-based mental health services to students and families in the Mother Lode Union School District. Since August 2012 New Morning has counseled 34 individual students, initiated four student counseling groups and three parenting group classes. He gave as an example a family of three children, ages 5 to 11, who were in the custody of their great-aunt. The father was in prison, the mother in state-mandated rehabilitation. The children were depressed and having trouble academically. With New Morning’s support, the children were performing well by the end of the school year.
Boys and Girls Club El Dorado County Western Slope, $17,000-Sean McCartney, Executive Director
The local Boys and Girls Club started services for children 6 to 18 in 1999. Since then, the Boys and Girls Club has served youngsters through a variety of programs at their clubhouses in Placerville, Pollock Pines and Georgetown.
One of the programs is SMART Moves, Skills Mastery and Resistance Training. Boys and Girls Club received funding toward one of the components, SMART Girls. SMART Girls offered a year-round weekly program for girls ages 8-12 and 13-17.
Executive Director Sean McCartney said that in Placerville 40 girls participated, 30 in Pollock Pines and 30 in Georgetown. Through energetic sessions, activities, field trips and mentoring with adult women, the girls explored their own and society’s attitudes and values and built skills for eating right, staying physically fit, getting good health care and developing positive relationships with peers and adults.
He told about 10-year-old Mary, whose father is in Folsom Prison. Mary had dropped out of school and joined a gang. She was encouraged to participate in SMART Girls, and as a result she left the gang and changed her life’s direction.
Big Brothers/Big Sisters of El Dorado County, $5,500-Judy Knapp, Executive Director
Big Brothers/Big Sisters of El Dorado County was started to serve a need in the county by residents working with children in 1977. The goal, like that of the national organization, is to help children 6 through 18 reach their potential through one-to-one relationships with adult mentors.
One of the special programs that Big Brothers/Big Sisters offers is Girls Circle. Women’s Fund contributed to the program that serves 6th and 7th grade girls at Markham Middle School, Herbert Green Middle School, Camino School and Sierra Ridge Middle School in association with public health nurses.
Executive Director Judy Knapp said that Girls Circle provides a safe place to bring up difficult problems such as sexual assault, feelings of suicide and emotional bullying anonymously and process them as a group. They learn to share problems, she said.
Twelve-year-old Danica McGeever, who will be in 7th grade at Herbert Green Middle School, spoke with poise and confidence about her transition during 6th grade in Girls Circle. She brought a small garbage can full of slips of paper to illustrate how problems are brought up without being personal. The girls mark permission for their comments to be discussed as a group.
Danica talked about the girls “drama fights” and spiteful gossip that are common in middle school. She said the program concentrates on girls’ body images, developing self-confidence and learning to communicate with empathy and share problems. Girls Circle is a way for girls to find out who they are, she said. She reported that in the Girls Circle the girls began to feel closer to one another and the school benefitted as a result. Danica received a standing ovation from the roomful of adults.
Impact award update
Maureen Carter gave an update on the Golden Sierra High School girls ROP Construction crew that received a $3,333.33 Impact grant in 2010. The grant assisted the team in paying for expenses to participate in the Sacramento Builders Exchange Design Build Competition. They were the first girls team in the 24-year-history of the competition.
This year an ROP team joined in a project to finish a home that they built on campus for a Navajo woman. Last summer, they dismantled the home, transported it to Arizona and rebuilt it on her reservation. This summer, the students are returning to finish the house, including installing a gravity-feed water system and preparing the house for solar power.
Three share 2013 Focus grant funds
CASA of El Dorado County, $14,000
CASA’s mission is to help children who are removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect find safe homes. The alternative is foster care placement, where they are emancipated at age 18 with no safety net. The grant money will help train 60 new volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates and provide continuing education for 130 advocates.
CASA volunteers are independent advocates for children in the child welfare system. They help the courts decide what services the children need and what placement options are best. Development Manager Kathy Hurd said CASA serves 350-400 children annually. Half are under age 7. Last year 91 children were without an advocate.
Assistance League of Sierra Foothills, $13,000
The Assistance League, headquartered in El Dorado Hills, researches, develops and implements its own philanthropic programs based upon the needs of El Dorado County. One of its programs is Operation School Bell.
Operation School Bell provides new school clothes for underprivileged and homeless children ages 5-17. Shopping trips with the children and their parent or guardian are coordinated with designated schools and retailers in Placerville, South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado Hills.
President Vera Doettling said volunteers help the children plan their shopping trip with $100. “The children learn the art of shopping wisely,” she said.
Each child is given a coupon for a free haircut donated by a local merchant and a free reading book.
Since 2010, the Assistance League has provided 859 children with new school clothes. “Our goal is 500 children a year,” she said. the Emergency Shopping program continues to support hardship situations throughout the school year.
Founder and Executive Director Jennifer Bassett said her inspiration for creating Hands4Hope in 2008 was the desire to see her two boys grow up to be compassionate, responsible individuals, who look beyond themselves and desire to make this a better world. The organization now has over 1,100 youth volunteers who lend a helping hand to existing programs. The organization has service learning programs at 10 public and one private school.
The grant will help Hands4Hope’s Project Grow expand into three new schools. It creates an opportunity for 60 additional youth to be involved, provides a home base for youth to do their work during non-school hours and the summer, and allows Hands4Hope to add 2,000 hours of youth community volunteer time.
Impact grants fund three programs
Each Impact grant recipient receives a one-third share of the $10,000 annual fund.
Placerville Union School District Family Resource Center, $3,333.33
The school district has an unusually high number of homeless students. The district is legally required to provide free meals and transportation to and from school. In addition, the Family Resource Center works to eliminate barriers to academic success. The grant pays for one hour per day for a Para Educator to identify and help meet the students’ needs.
Senior Peer Counseling of El Dorado County, $3,333.33
Psychologist Carolyn Sauer, clinical supervisor for the program, said that mental health services for older adults are a major unmet need in El Dorado County. Senior Peer Counseling offers no-cost, clinically-supervised individual counseling to residents 55 and older who suffer from grief, depression, loss, health and other challenges. Volunteer counselors require extensive training and weekly supervision from a licensed mental health clinician. The grant helps fund the clinical supervisor for the 2013-14 year.
The Infant Parent Center, $3,333.33
The Infant Parent Center is the only county agency with infant mental health specialists trained to serve families from preconception to the child’s third year. They provide psychotherapeutic and supportive services to families who are at risk for infant and child abuse or neglect due to mental health issues or poor coping abilities. The center expects to serve 95 families this year. The grant will support 67 client visits for families unable to pay.
Plus two surprise gifts
After Grants Chair Robyn Parker introduced the grant recipients, she announced two anonymous donations.
Assistance League of Sierra Foothills, $1,500.
This donation adds to the Operation School Bell program.
Mother Lode Rehabilitation Enterprises, $3,333.33
This donation is to fund a self-advocacy program in partnership with the Center for Violence-free Relationships. The program will assist adults with developmental disabilities, autism and autism spectrum disorders and mental health disabilities.
El Dorado Community Foundation and Women’s Fund founder Kathleen Peek introduced the recipients of the Wickline Scholar Awards. Marian Wickline, a chemist, created a legacy gift to the El Dorado Community Foundation in 2009 for women who are pursuing undergraduate or vocational degrees that assist them in overcoming personal difficulties. This year, two women each received a $1,200 scholarship.
Brittany France is studying Human Services at Folsom Lake College, El Dorado Center. After completing her AA degree, she plans to continue her education and eventually earn a Master’s degree in Social Work.
Shandra Raymond is studying Early Childhood Education at Folsom Lake College, El Dorado Center, and plans to continue her education after earning an AA degree.
The Grant Awards 2013 program was sponsored by Randolph Jewelers, Barsotti Family Juice Co. and U.S. Bank.
For more information about the Women’s Fund El Dorado, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 530-622-5621, or visit the El Dorado Community Foundation Website, eldoradocf.org. Information about the Women’s Fund El Dorado is under “Connect.”