Twelve years ago, United Way began forming women’s leadership councils across the country to empower women to help their communities. United Way of Westchester and Putnam (UWWP) formed their chapter just seven months ago, in December of 2013, with big-name founding members like Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson of Thompson and Bender and Ruth Mahoney, Hudson Valley/NY Metro President of Key Bank. The steering committee alone is a veritable who’s-who of Westchester’s most successful women business leaders.
And since these successful female executives know a thing or two about navigating the career landscape here, the group’s specific goal is to help single, working mothers in the area who are struggling financially.
“In Westchester specifically, 45 percent of single mothers with children under the age of five are living below the poverty level,” says Alyzza Ozer, senior vice president of resource development and community engagement at UWWP. “We identified this niche of women who were not self-identifying. They’re not currently homeless, and they’re not necessarily getting aid, but they’re working two or three jobs to make ends meet.”
The Women’s Leadership Council will channel volunteer efforts into two existing UWWP programs that serve the needs of single, working mothers: Smart Start, which provides families with the support they need to keep their children in school; and Teach Me to Fish, which provides career training for jobs in the healthcare field.
Joining the Women’s Leadership Council requires a $1,000 donation, which equates to roughly 12 days of job training in the Teach Me to Fish program, or, for Smart Start, a full year of engagement with a student to help him or her remain in school. There is no set “meeting schedule” (meetings are centered around a calendar of initiatives and events), and volunteer engagement is as flexible or as time consuming as you need it to be. For more information, visit the council’s website here.