During my short time interning at Chester County Fund for Women and Girls, I learned a lot about nonprofits in my community, but two things stood out in particular: the vast amount of need in Chester County and the endless efforts to help. When the media is always highlighting country-wide marches or women’s issues all over the world, it is easy to overlook our struggling neighbors and friends. We are always pressured into this idea of saving the “starving kids in Africa” that we don’t pay any mind to the hungry kids in Chester County, or the homeless, or the ill, and so on.
One in three homeless people in Chester County are women (Phoenixville Women’s Outreach).
Although being one of the wealthiest counties in Pennsylvania, Chester County is not without fault. After realizing all of the struggles our women and girls face (and feeling ashamed of my ignorance), I discovered that there are so many nonprofits in the county dedicated to helping women and girls in different ways. All over the county, the 70+-plus organizations that we have funded help women and girls receive the support they need, ranging from healthcare to counseling to creating safe havens for girls to simply hanging out with other girls their age. It is with the grants, support and advocacy from CCFWG that these organizations can continue to do what they do and uplift our women and girls. I just wish I had known about them before. Everyone I have met through CCFWG is altruistic, empathetic and passionate.
Hearing success stories from grantees and seeing the impact these nonprofits made on struggling women and girls taught me the value in grantmaking. While some people find it most satisfying to directly volunteer with an organization, nonprofits (and incidentally, those they serve) are extremely appreciative of receiving grants. With our grants, they can improve their services and conditions, and potentially expand their services to other areas or concerns.
And then there’s the Girls Advisory Board (GAB). Never before have I seen so many kind, bright high school girls who want to give back to their community. With an abundance of applications and only a few slots, I participated in the interview process a great deal and met so many compassionate girls. They all loved community service and volunteering so much, but they wanted to do something bigger. Impressed and simultaneously disappointed in my high school self, I became inspired by them. They recognized their privilege and wanted to provide for those without it. I am confident our youth will make a difference.
I was a girl in Chester County and am now a woman in Chester County. Living a fairly privileged lifestyle, I admittedly never found myself thinking about what obstacles women and girls exclusively in my county face. I think that many people are unaware of the issues in the community, and one thing I admire so much about CCFWG is their work to shed light on those issues. We began an online segment “Kitchen Table Talks” that I was largely involved in, with the purpose of creating videos focusing around women’s issues in the community to spread awareness. I was able to speak with two women trying to change the way our criminal justice system treats women. They were so grateful that we allowed them the space to talk and share their experiences and research, it made me realize that us giving them a platform to spread awareness is a huge step in advancing and validating their voices.
I give thanks to everyone I worked with and met along the way, including all of the applying GAB girls I interviewed, for inspiring me to make a difference and reminding me that there are still people who truly do care about others. I admire the work at CCFWG and have had a great pleasure working with the organization.
For more information about Chester County Fund for Women and Girls and their community impact, visit : www.ccwomenandgirls.org.