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Full Circle News

The Power of One ... Multiplied by Many

May-June 2020

In This Issue: Leadership Letter | 2020 Grantees | Post Grants Needs You! Spotlight: Rebuilding Together | Grantee Spotlight: Touchstones | AAWGT Covid-19 Response

Leadership Letter

While much has changed in the world, in the US, in Maryland, in Anne Arundel County and in our lives, some things have remained the same, good and true. Our Giving Circle’s members’ commitment to improving the lives of women and families has stayed positive and focused.

AAWGT has just awarded the most dollars ever to the successful 2020 grantees as described in the article in this newsletter by Beth Dolezal, grants chair. Thankfully this level of funding was available due to the increased number of members and the generosity of those who responded to the Challenge Fund in the fall-- before the increased needs of this spring and the coming months were even imagined. Throughout a challenging and changing winter and spring, Beth, assistant chair Susan Cook, and the grants committee worked to provide a ballot that represented the wide-ranging needs of local not-for-profits serving women and children.

The 2020 application was more widely distributed than ever before with the result that more applications were received. Smaller organizations were encouraged to apply for a Fundamental Needs Grant, addressing food insecurity, parenting support and/or the needs of children from birth to age five. Luckily, electronic voting was already in place solving one potential problem.

We adapted like the rest of the world to no face-to-face meetings and to Zoom and made the best of it. While AAWGT members have always valued meeting in person, whether to share in Education sessions, Steering Committee meetings, committee meetings, get togethers, book clubs, and so on, the work continued without interruption—except for the occasional stray animal or family member—with the added bonus of seeing colleagues at home.

So, many, many thanks to all. There isn’t an adequate way to way to express that except to wish everyone well, to welcome everyone to continue working together if remotely, to encourage everyone to join in committee work, and to pledge to continue what AAWGT is best at—working together. Sincerely,

Sheila Onuska, President
Elaine Shanley, Vice-President

Post Grants Needs You!

If you are interested in working with one of the dynamic 2020 Grantees, the Post Grants Evaluation Committee is the place for you! With 9 grants awarded this year, our Committee is in need of 6 to 7 new members to serve as liaisons to the Grantees beginning this summer, working in pairs to make one or two site visits, and staying in touch with the Grantee through the grant year. To learn more, please contact Kate Caldwell at

Covid-19 Response

In support of those impacted by COVID-19, AAWGT encourages you to consider making a gift to the Community Crisis Response Fund which is run by the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County. Through this fund CFAAC will provide grants to local nonprofits providing food security and basic human needs to the vulnerable and underserved populations in Anne Arundel County.

Donate to the Community Crisis Response Fund

2019 Grantee Spotlight

Rebuilding Together AACo

Single Female Homeowner Renovation Grant

RTAAC is thrilled with the outcome of the AAWGT Grant for $20,000 to renovate 14 homes for women homeowners in need. RTAAC helps those who have nowhere else to turn and provides cost-free home renovations that allow women to age in place and remain an asset to their community. Without their assistance, and this grant from AAWGT, these women were at risk of becoming homeless, being forced into assisted living, or foisted onto relatives. These homes were at risk of becoming abandoned or foreclosed and a blight on the community.

The 14 homes renovated with the AAWGT grant included new roofs, ramps, grab bars and handrails, and so much more. A disabled woman in Annapolis had no way to be outside – RTAAC built her a deck. A single mom with 3 very young children, including a newborn, had a dilapidated kitchen where the refrigerator opened to the stairs to the basement, making it a serious fall risk every time someone opened the door. RTAAC tore out the entire kitchen – including a wall. They replaced the flooring, the cabinets, stove, microwave, countertop, and moved the fridge. 

With the use of volunteers, donated skilled labor and in-kind donations, RTAAC is able to garner, on average, nearly $10 in market value repairs for every grant dollar spent. These projects would have cost these 14 homeowners over $320,000. A full report of these incredible home renovations will be presented at the AAWGT Showcase in September.

2019 Grantee Spotlight


Building Women’s Life and Leadership Skills for Post-Incarceration Success

Fyodor Dostoyevsky famously wrote that “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” Recently I have been going into the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCI-W), located in Anne Arundel County, to facilitate their weekly Touchstones discussions. From its founding in 1984, more than 5,000,000 people around the globe have participated in Touchstones programs in six languages. These programs have given a voice to both professionals and to those in society who are often not heard due to individual, community, and societal dynamics. Through active learning and discussion together, members of Touchstones programs come to understand themselves and their fellow participants more fully and gain a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness and complexity of humanity.

Since 2015, Touchstones has been offered as part of a seven-week long employment readiness workshop or as part of weekly preparation for the equivalency diploma exams at MCI-W. Thanks (in part) to a generous grant for 2019-2020 from AAWGT, Touchstones has provided more than 120 women in the last eight months alone with focused time to develop the interpersonal and self-regulation skills they must have for gainful and sustained employment after their release. They practice whole-person literacy (emotional, educational, psychosocial)—learning to teach themselves and others and to assume greater responsibility, self control, and leadership across many aspects of their lives. They also develop the courage and ability to seek help when and where it’s needed.

There are no other programs in the Prison School that provide this important and focused learning that these women, most of whom are heads of households with dependent children or grandchildren, must cultivate in themselves to remain free after they are released. To date, of the dozens of women who have come through Touchstones and returned home to their families, only a few have recidivated. I feel fortunate to be able to engage with these women and witness their growth, and mine, as I’ve been given the opportunity to help introduce and foster much-needed civility and humanity in the prison environment.

Reflections from Within

Jenn Macris, Outreach and Advancement Coordinator, Touchstones

Upcoming Event (Webinar)

June 17, 2020, 7:00 - 8:15 pm

Trimming Health Inequity: Barbershops and Beauty Salons as Trusted Partners

Dr. Stephen B. Thomas, Dir. UMD, School of Public Health, Center for Health Equity

Register Here

Upcoming events our members are engaged in. We invite others to join AAWGT to participate with us.

AAWGT Announces 2020 Grants

The grant applications to be funded by our 2020 Annual Grant Fund were decided by the AAWGT membership on May 13.  This year, because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, all voting was online. The largest amount of money to date ($139,381) was raised for grant distribution, thanks to our record number of members and the special Grant Fund Challenge. We received 48 grant applications, a larger number than ever before and partly due to how widely the Call for Applications was distributed.  And, it goes without saying, the amount of time every member of the Grants Committee put in to review and evaluate the grant applications was extensive.  All this hard work culminated in 17 applications appearing on the ballot.

New this year is the Fundamental Needs Grant for up to $10,000. The recipient must be headquartered in Anne Arundel County and have revenue of no more than $100,000.  The program/project being proposed must address food insecurity, parenting support and/or the needs of children from birth to five years. This being the first year for this grant, the GC was pleased with the quality of grants that made the ballot.

The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County will be distributing the $139,381 Grant Fund to eight Regular Grants plus the Fundamental Needs Grant. Each is described below.  This year, because of the pandemic, the decision was made to allocate all the Grant Fund dollars rather than returning the remainder after full grant amounts were awarded to the 2021 Grant Fund.  Therefore, Center of Help, the first choice of the voters that could not be funded in full, will receive the remaining $3073.

Fundamental Needs Grant

Newtowne Community Development Corporation - From Surviving to Thriving - $10,000

Provides case management and mentoring services to at least 10 single mothers in Woodside Gardens Apartments, a low-income housing complex in Annapolis, to help them move away from poverty. 

Regular Grants

Annapolis Immigration Justice Network - Legal Fund/Family Preservation Project - $20,000

Provides legal services, guidance, accompaniment, translation services, and referrals to non-legal assistance to immigrants as they navigate the complex immigration process. 

Anne Arundel County (AAC) Food Bank, Inc. - Baby Pantries - $10,000

Improves and expands AAC Food Bank baby pantries that provide baby food, formula, diapers, wipes, and other essential items to low-income parents/guardians in Anne Arundel County. 

Chrysalis House, Inc.- Training for Child Development Staff - $6,330

Increases training available to staff to support the needs of children in their structured, nurturing program with the goal of helping break the generational cycle of addiction, crime, and poverty. 

HOPE For All, Inc. - Turning Houses into Homes - $19,978

Provides basic goods to AAC women and families in need so they can establish healthy homes and lives after homelessness and crises. 

The Light House, Inc. - Family Assistance Program - $20,000 

Supports a comprehensive program for homeless families, families at risk of homelessness, and homeless individuals working to reconnect with their children to promote long-term self-sufficiency.  

Seeds 4 Success, Inc. - Student Health and Wellness Initiative - $20,000

Increase students in S4S use of their health insurance and access to primary care providers as a preventative measure and move them away from using only the ER when needed. 

Services from the Heart - Backpack Buddies Program/Food Backpacks - $10,000

Provides weekly food backpacks to 100 economically disadvantaged children in the FARMS (Free and Reduced Meals) programs in Anne Arundel County at 3 Title I schools.  

Touchstones Discussion Project - Expanding Women’s Life and Leadership Skills for Post-Incarceration Success - $20,000

Delivers 42 weeks of discussion-based educational programming for 200 women at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCI-W) in Anne Arundel County. Develops improved life and work skills, promotes healthy decision-making and parenting skills, and reduces recidivism.

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