United Way’s Women's Leadership Council in Westmoreland, Fayette and Southern Armstrong Counties connects women donors who want to be stronger leaders, more involved community members and more invested philanthropists.
Since the group began in 2007, members have focused primarily on one community issue: Helping local older adults remain living independently at home.
Their focus developed as a natural response to community needs and the needs of local women. Thousands of seniors reside in Westmoreland County and many lacked the support they needed to remain living at home. These seniors were missing just the little assistance they needed, like a weekly ride to the grocery store or someone to trim the hedges, and it meant the difference between staying in the familiar home they loved and moving to an assisted living facility. At the same time, the Women’s Leadership Council recognized that these complex these issues and decisions were often shouldered by women, the adult children or relatives of older adults.
So shortly after their formation, the Women’s Leadership Council partnered with another burgeoning United Way program in Westmoreland County – Faith in Action. Entirely volunteer-based, Faith in Action helps older adults maintain their health, happiness and independence while living at home. Thanks to the support of the Women’s Leadership Council over the last 10 years, Faith in Action has provided over 100,000 hours of volunteer service to almost 2,500 older adults through 1,000 volunteers, saving our community millions in long-term care costs.
During this period, all membership donations made by Women’s Leadership Council members were designated entirely to Faith in Action. However, as Faith in Action continued to grow and gain more financial support, the landscape of local women’s philanthropy also began to change. Women donors wanted their giving to be as diverse as their passions.
By the beginning of 2017, the Women’s Leadership Council knew it was time for a change. To once again respond to the needs and interests of local women, they drafted a revised designation policy. Rather than requiring all of a member’s donation to be designated to Faith in Action, the new policy would require only half, while the other half could be designated to the United Way Impact Fund or an Impact funded program. However, if she choses, a member could still designate all of her pledge to Faith in Action.
On Thursday, March 23, the new designation policy was approved by a unanimous vote at the annual meeting of the Women’s Leadership Council.
Under the new policy, the Women’s Leadership Council looks forward to welcoming more members and representing a more diverse range of philanthropic interests, while still offering critical support to United Way’s Faith in Action program.
“We want to remain a voice and ally for older adults and their caregivers in our community,” said Alyssa Cholodofsky, VP of Development & Impact for United Way, who also oversees the Women’s Leadership Council. “But, we recognize this isn’t the only cause local women leaders are passionate about. We want to be responsive to the needs and interests in our community, and that’s why we adopted a broader designation policy.”
“With more members - who have varied interests and passions - we can better achieve our goal of developing women’s leadership through philanthropy and engagement in our community.”