They were 86 women—many strangers to each other.
Beginning in living rooms across Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills, they discovered their shared concern for women and girls and determined to do something about it.
In late 2017, the Women’s Giving Circle at Connecticut Community Foundation was born.
Chairperson Kathy Bower of Southbury reflected, “It was a unique time in history for women and perfect timing for the launch of the Women’s Giving Circle. Many women were wondering what they could do to make a difference, to be part of the change and to energize, support and empower women and girls.”
She continued, “The Circle reflects the power of women coming together when our voices are really being heard in more meaningful ways than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.”
The Circle members (teens through those in their 90s) pooled their dollars, studied the issues, listened to each other and local leaders, and broke bread together.
In 2018, they voted to award their collective donations via grants—totaling $34,000—to seven nonprofit organizations working to help women and girls in the region get a leg up, move through crises, or better their career options through education. Funding covered mentoring, training in computer coding, alternative therapies for survivors of sexual assault, empowerment workshops and nature-based learning.
“The Circle’s grant to Butterflies With Voices was especially meaningful to me,” said Linda Strange of Southbury. “They are a local group of women who had pulled themselves up by their bootstraps without any particular help and got together to mentor younger girls who were in the same situation. I have mentored girls and I know how critical that additional support is.”
Bower hopes the Circle continues to grow and give together, particularly though the richness of experiences and insights of women across generations.
“My definition of success includes a very healthy dose of philanthropy. I don’t view success as a financial thing. I view it as ‘what mark did you leave on the world?’” she said. “For my three daughters and for women and girls across the region, my hope is that their futures will be better at the workplace, at the marketplace and in the community.”
View more photos of the Waterbury Youth Services Girls Who Code program