Greater Gardner MA Women’s Circle of Giving relaunches fundraising
After a two-year hiatus, the co-founders of the Greater Gardner Women’s Circle of Giving have handed over to a newly created steering committee to continue the work of supporting women, children and families in the community through philanthropy. .
“Our goals are similar to those of past leaders, we are civically engaged in our community and the premise that a small group of people can have a huge impact on the world remains with the group,” said Lynn Sayarath, a member leader. of the Circle. “The group empowers women to collectively do something that has a major impact on our communities.”
In November 2019, the women of the organization met for the last time before the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to put their community work on hold. The women’s group did two more fundraisers before coming to a complete halt.
“In April 2020, we raised funds to distribute to Heywood Hospital due to the financial burden that COVID-19 has placed on the hospital,” Sayarath said. “Then in June 2020 we did another fundraiser and that went to local food pantries in Gardner. We announced to our members that we were seeking their support and taking advantage of Heywood Hospital and local food pantries due to the pandemic.
From the organization’s inception in 2014 until its hiatus in 2020, the Women’s Circle has donated more than $145,000 to local organizations in the Greater Gardner area.
“The impact of the Women’s Circle of Giving is profound,” Sayarath said. “We’ve given back over $145,000 to non-profit organizations in our area in six years, which is phenomenal.
In January 2022, the Circle’s co-founders and former leaders had a virtual meeting to discuss re-establishing the organization. Former members and volunteers were also invited to contribute to the discussion.
The assembly confirmed the revival of the circle, with some changes in membership fees and a new management committee which eliminates the hierarchical titles of president, secretary, treasurer, etc. Finally, a new way of naming the two non-profit community organizations that the Circle will fundraise for that year.
“We added a college membership to help encourage philanthropy among the youth of our community because we know that at some point we will need the next generation to keep this stuff going in our community,” said Sayarath. “College membership is $25 per meeting commitment, $100 per year.”
Sayarath said the Circle has added a new Associate Membership for women who are rooted in Gardner but no longer live in the community and have an interest in contributing to the organization.
“My mom lives in Florida, but she’s still very connected to Gardner and she’s joining as an associate member,” Sayarath said. “An associate member agrees to cut the check quarterly for the selected organization, but they are not eligible to vote because they are not present at the meeting in person, where we vote.”
Four women make up the new steering committee: Sayarath, who is an independent clinical social worker and field hockey coach at Gardner High, Theresa Thompson, physician recruiter at Heywood Hospital, Shannon Ouellete, financial planner at Northwestern Mutual, and Tracy Hutchinson, president and CEO of the nonprofit organization GAAMHA.
“We now have a leadership team that includes an impressive collection of women from our community who are working together to give back,” Sayarath said. “There are four of us and we all have different roles, but collectively we work together to ensure that the Women’s Circle aligns with our mission.”
The Circle will hold a kick-off meeting on Wednesday, September 28 at the Colonial Hotel, 625 Betty Spring Road. Former members are encouraged to re-register and potential new members are invited to come to the meeting for more information on membership fees and responsibilities. There will be refreshments and a silent vote to choose two nonprofit beneficiaries of the group’s fundraising efforts.
New member applications and nominations for both non-profit organizations are on the Circle website Facebook page. There is no deadline for the new membership application, but for the organization, the nomination application must be submitted 45 days before the next meeting of members.
“There’s a regular membership where a woman commits to four meetings a year and a commitment of $200 a year, or $50 per meeting,” Sayarath said. “They will write a check to the selected nonprofit at the meeting.”
Sayarath said those interested in getting involved with the organization but who may have financial limitations should email [email protected]
“There are a lot of small tasks involved in organizing the meetings and we would welcome anyone interested in volunteering who cannot meet the financial commitment,” Sayarath said. “If this is a challenge for people, please contact us as we would like people to be able to participate and contribute to the best of their abilities.”