In This Issue: Leadership Letter | Upcoming Events | Membership | Sharon Stewart | Women Leaders Fostering Change | Grantee Spotlight - TheLight House
Hope. It is a universal feeling right now. Hope for the pandemic to end and for all to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. Hope for spring and warm weather to come and to again gather near to those important to us. While we wait patiently for all these good things, we remember in March the women who forged ahead with a myriad of challenges and who created a path for us all. We are also reminded of the importance of continuing our quest for excellence for the women of future generations. AAWGT’s Leadership Development and Nominating Committee was pleased to present our Women and Leadership event on March 10th featuring three dynamic women and their stories of fostering change. We hope you were able to attend the event.
We have all had to adapt to change this past year. The arts community has been particularly challenged to find new ways to be creative, given the restrictions on in-person events. In February, we heard from several leaders in the arts at our educational event, The Performing Arts During Covid. Their adaptations due to the pandemic were creative and interesting. The Education and Program Committee is already gearing up with more valuable programs later in the year.
The amazing volunteers on the Grants Committee have been hard at work looking at ways our grants process can be made more flexible and impactful. Over 45 grant applications were received this year. Our giving circle is blessed to have talented women who carefully vet each application before bringing their selections to ballot in May for our collective vote. Once grants are awarded, we then learn from the Post Grants Evaluation Committee about the real change that takes place through the projects we fund.
We recognize that hope and change are both essential in today’s landscape. So we will continue to hold virtual events until it is safe for everyone to meet in person. We look forward to seeing many of you at some time later this year and, in the meantime, stay tuned for more 15th Anniversary posts in the coming weeks!
Stay hopeful and safe!
Elaine Shanley, President
The Light House has been serving families struggling with homelessness in our community for over 30 years. We see first-hand that while homelessness is unrelentingly difficult for adults, it is particularly bewildering for children.
Since the COVID-19 crisis began with its unique hardships, families have turned to The Light House in record numbers. During 2020, we have served roughly 40% more clients than a typical year. We have continued to provide life-changing support—successfully moving shelter families into safe and stable housing, diverting hundreds of at-risk households from becoming homeless, and providing access to food, case management and other basic needs.
Recent funding from Anne Arundel Women Giving Together supports a variety of Light House programs including those for families with children in our emergency shelter program, which provided shelter to 32 children in 2020 alone. With the COVID-19 crisis, the emergency shelter program has served as both home and school for the children. A portion of AAWGT funds helped us set up safe virtual learning areas in the common space of our family floor. The children living here have benefitted from designated workstations equipped with plexiglass dividers, school supplies, and the privacy and supervision needed to navigate their virtual learning. These spaces were set up in conjunction with the AACo Public School system and followed AACo Department of Health and CDC guidelines.
Light House Rapid Rehousing Program Administrator, Kris McNally (right), providing housing search assistance to a Safe Harbour client in their outdoor space. The Light House staff are very grateful to have been able to provide families in our community with one-on-one in-person case management during these difficult times.
Recent funding from AAWGT also supports The Light House Safe Harbour Resource Center, which provides homelessness prevention and diversion services. In 2020 alone, Safe Harbour prevented over 240 households from becoming homeless.
Cynthia, a single mother of two, came to Safe Harbour last summer, extremely exhausted and scared. Earlier in the year, the owner of the small apartment home she had been renting, suddenly decided to sell the property. She was unable to find an affordable option and her family began living in hotels. Just weeks later as the Covid-19 crisis began, Cynthia was working full-time in a local warehouse while one of her two children was able to work in food delivery. Unfortunately, the majority of their combined income was going towards the steep cost of hotel living and they began to run out of money. There were many days when they were unsure if they could pay for another night’s stay and thought they might have to sleep in their van. They experienced severe stress at being homeless during a pandemic and all three began to struggle with mental health issues.
Thankfully, a manager at one of the hotels they were staying in directed Cynthia to Safe Harbour, where Karen Williams, Director of Homelessness Prevention and Diversion was able to provide one-on-one case management. “Karen sat there with me and listened to me,” remarked Cynthia. “At that point I had not been able to talk to anyone honestly about what my family was going through. As I was talking to her, I just started to cry. She was so kind and helped me think through what solutions we could focus on together. She connected me with Kris, who works on rapid rehousing for Light House, and together, they were able to keep my family from being on the streets and soon got us into an affordable apartment.” They have also been able to secure vital necessities. “The Light House got me through one of the hardest times. They continue to have open arms and are forever in my heart.”
To learn more about The Light House visit annapolislighthouse.org.
Not a Member Yet?
Please email us at email@example.com if you’d like to be added to the invite list for our next prospective member event, which we will continue to host by Zoom until it’s safe to meet in person again.
SPRING OPEN HOUSE
(STILL) CONNECTING IN THE AGE OF COVID
April 14 6:00-7:00 PM
Curious about AAWGT and how we achieve community impact? Interested in joining AAWGT? It’s been 2 years since AAWGT has been able to host an Open House for for our members, for those new to the organization, and potential members. Join us to learn more about AAWGT and to socialize with like-minded women. All are welcome!
Affordable Housing in Anne Arundel County
June 9 7:00-8:00 PM
A Warm Welcome to our Newest Members!
As we mark our 15th year of collective philanthropy, we are taking the opportunity to highlight a few of our members as they describe what AAWGT means to them. We begin with Sharon Stewart whose inspiration launched the organization in 2006. We will feature other members throughout the year, thanks to the interviewing and writing skills of member Nancy Haiman.
Sharon moved to Annapolis in late 2004. She was eager to establish a Giving Circle. In May of 2005, she received a “go” from Les Salamon, and permission to work with the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County’s new Executive Director, Gail Sanders, to recruit a small group of women who could get a Giving Circle off the ground. Read the rest of the story.
On March 10, AAWGT presented a fascinating panel discussion moderated by member Cardie Templeton. Speakers were three extraordinary women leaders: Linda Gooden, Rear Admiral (Ret.) Margaret Kibben, and Monica Brown Jones, M.D. Topics included the importance of opening doors, the role of leadership “grit,” gender stereotyping, the pandemic’s effect on leadership, overcoming self-doubts, and leadership’s evolution in the next decade. Highlights follow. The full event recording will be available on givingtogether.org early next week.
Opening Doors: After Dr. Jones completed her residency at the University of Cincinnati, her department chair suggested that NIH would be a good place to land for a fellowship. Indeed, the National Cancer Institute had a postdoctoral research fellowship in ovarian cancer, Dr. Jones’ key interest area. She took the fellowship and became a basic science researcher, and after four years at NCI, moved to run a research lab at the Mayo Clinic. “To pay it forward,” Dr. Jones invited young women from all over the world to join her lab as post-doctorate fellows. Most proud of the mentorship section of her CV, she says everyone should have such a section that highlights what the mentored individuals have accomplished.
The Role of Leadership Grit: Kibben’s Dad told her, “You have to have Grun (family name) grit.” If cards are against you or if something looks overwhelming, you grit your teeth and power through it. She notes the many voices that can counter desires or hopes and hold you back. Grit enables pushing through to say, “I can try this, and if I fail, I will pick myself up and move forward.” Grit also is an important element of how one interacts with other people. It indicates, “I have a voice and I want to use it.” This is a big part of learning how to lead and succeed.
Overcoming Self-Doubts: Most leaders have many moments of self-doubt. The key for Gooden is to surround herself with a team whose members push back on decisions and raise issues that may require consideration. Too often we think the leader needs to know everything, but it takes a team to get things done and to provide checks and balances. She also cites the importance of having a mentor, particularly someone who will “play it straight” and not just tell her what she wants to hear when she asks, “What do you think?”
Pandemic’s Effect on Women Leaders: The discussion touched on the fact that 2.5M women dropped out of the workforce due to COVID either due to job loss or the need to stay at home to care for children and help them with virtual learning. The panelists shared concern about this and unified commitment to help women who want and need to go back to work, as well as those who may choose or not be able to return. They also lauded the creativity and innovation of teachers during this era.
Leadership’s Evolution: As new generations enter the workforce, it will be comprised of a greater share of women. Women’s leadership style, characterized by mentoring, coaching, inclusivity, and collaboration, will lead to more success because new generations are looking for this style. Gooden expects the next decade to be “the age of the woman.”