Sunday, March 30, 2008
Last fall, 2007, the United Way gathered representatives from Ulster County community service organizations. They wanted to learn what barriers exist for Ulster County women working to achieve self-sufficiency. The participants agreed without a doubt, the most critical barriers are lack of personal support and financial assistance.
HOPE's Fund was born in response to those needs.
At our March AAUW Branch meeting, Stacey Rein, Executive Director of the United Way of Ulster County, shared the plans for HOPE's Fund and HOPE's Projects.
HOPE stands for Help, Opportunity, Passion, and Empowerment. The Fund will raise money. HOPE's Projects will organize and provide services. The first services, mentoring for women in transition, will begin in September.
Rein explained that many women who have had a crisis -- financial, emotional, medical, relationship -- often find the immediate support to resolve their crisis from existing public and private agencies. The challenge comes as a woman moves through the transition from crisis to stabilization. They're vulnerable to relapse and often isolated. Often, a well-matched mentor may be able to offer advice, guidance, or some stress-relief at just the right time.
In addition, relatively small financial needs may stand in the way of progress. Things like car repairs, a first, last, and security deposit for an apartment, or appropriate clothes for a job may be beyond a woman's resources.
HOPE's Projects will recruit, screen and match mentors and 'apprentices.' A mentor will spend time each week with the apprentice -- a cup of coffee and conversation, a telephone call, maybe attending a local event. Each mentor/apprentice match will also have access to some funds to alleviate those rough patches.
A mentor might be matched based on the apprentice's professional aspirations, age of her children, hobbies or special interests, or the particular challenges she faces. A mentor is not a therapist or counselor, though. The planners are carefully defining roles and boundaries for both the apprentice and the mentor.
To fund this and other programs in the wings, HOPE's Fund has goals to recruit 500 members and raise $50,000 in Hope's Fund's first year.
Want to support HOPE's Fund? You can volunteer to work on one of four committees: governance, special events, allocations or membership. Or join by send a donation payable to HOPE's Fund, c/o United Way of Ulster County.
"Share the excitement that comes from working with women to help women!"