The United Way of Bradley County has formed a new initiative designed to get more women involved in the work the organization does, especially in those areas where women have the most …
The United Way of Bradley County has formed a new initiative designed to get more women involved in the work the organization does, especially in those areas where women have the most concerns.
Candice Natola of United Way of Bradley County has been involved in the project from its beginning, and sees it working with women in the community through existing programs and new programs as well.
“The Women’s Leadership Council is an initiative of the United Way designed to bring together the passion, expertise and drive of our local women to enact change within our community,” she said.
“We have identified that women locally wanted to see change in school readiness for our young children, as well as empower and encourage our young leaders within our community.”
She said that through the existing partnership with the Read 20 program and the Imagination Library, “we are hoping to educate and inspire caregivers to read with the children in their life, starting at an early age.
“We are also working with the local schools and nonprofits to reach out to young girls in our community, to encourage them on all of the possibilities in their lives,” Natola added.
According to information from the Leadership Council, 37 percent of children begin kindergarten unprepared to start a lifetime of learning. These children often do not catch up to their peers, and most face a higher dropout rate, so the Women’s Leadership Council is partnering with local schools to launch a program to educate the community on the importance of early childhood literacy.
The Women’s Leadership Council also wants to help adolescent girls reclaim that powerful voice that is often lost in middle school. It is hoped that by working with local schools, after-school programs and women within the community, these young girls can be exposed to an array of career options and opportunities available to them as they map out their futures. The council wants to equip these girls to go after what they are passionate about, and not let anything hold them back.
Janey Cooke is one of those involved with the Women’s Leadership Council, and she said that focusing on these adolescent girls is very important.
“When a group of women gather together, you begin to see much nurturing, and with this nurturing oftentimes children become involved,” said Cooke. “With this combination comes the making of projects, and through the life of these projects, wonderful results are achieved and concluded in the end.
“This came about because there is a need in our community for women to become stronger and more self-indulgent in being a part of what is going on around them,” she added.
She said that the council started with “a handful of women,” and has grown as more learn about the group and its mission.
“This past year has been one of organizing, and we will grow,” Cooke said. “We moved toward our mission of helping children, primarily young girls, and that led us to the schools because that is where the children are, and we learned what the schools would like to see accomplished by this group.”
She said that to meet the needs in the community, funds were necessary, so the council was granted the ability to do fundraising. That is where Cooke is most focused on raising the funds to help accomplish the goals of the council.
One of the fundraising events hosted by the Women’s Leadership Council is called “An Evening in Paris,” which is scheduled this spring for Friday, April 29, at Holly Hill. This will include a guest reception, a Chef’s French seven-course tasting menu, and a French wine pairing. There will be entertainment by Band X, “Atlanta’s Favorite Party Band.”
“Not that this will not be a serious event, but there will be no speaker. It will be a night of fun and celebration,” Cooke said.
She said the decision on the theme for the event was decided upon several months ago, long before the recent tragic events in Paris.
“The event has been planned and headlined for many months,” Cooke said. “The violence that has happened in this beautiful part of the world is most devastating and heart wrenching. Our hearts go out to the people of Paris during this unsettling time.”
Tickets and tables are available, and for more information, or if you would like to help sponsor the event, call the United Way of Bradley County at 423-479-2020, or Janey Cooke at 423-240-8391.
Cooke also said the council is hoping to get more and more women involved with the group.
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