As always, this year’s Wagy Awards & Holiday Luncheon was festive and rewarding! We met representatives from three local organizations receiving the Wagy awards and hear about the good work their organization does. The event was held on Dec. 6 at Lidia’s Restaurant. After partaking of fine Italian cuisine, guests observed a moment of silence in memory of Pam Burke, AAUW-KC Co-Program Chair, who had done the event planning and had passed away suddenly a few weeks prior. Then it was on to presentations by the representatives of the three organizations. Here is a bit about each of the organizations and the awards received. Clearly, we cannot capture in this write-up the passion these groups bring to their work nor the voices of those who benefit from their work. For that, one needed to be at this event.
Amethyst Place, Inc. provides treatment based supportive housing for homeless, low-income, high-risk women who have a history of chronic alcohol and/or drug abuse and their children. They are a campus of 38 fully furnished apartments, serving 60 families per year including their 120 children, more than half preschool age.
Julie Carmichael, Founder of Amethyst Place’s EnCompass Mentoring Program, and Christina Benz, a resident of Amethyst Place and participant in the mentoring program, and a mentee of Julie’s, received a check for $3,672 which will be used to support the mentoring program which currently consists of 20 moms and 40 mentor pairs (professional women who are already friends and have established, healthy relationships which they can model for the moms. Program participants attend to two meetings a month where they share a meal and where the moms can learn ways to improve their health-related behaviors, care of their children, and life-course development. Clearly the mentor/mentee friendships that result far surpass just the learnings that take place during the meetings, as we learned from Christina and Julie.
Connecting for Good works to ensure that low income and under resourced Kansas City residents have an Internet-connected computer in their homes. To help people become active digital citizens, Connecting for Good offers three equally important programs to the community – connectivity, affordable refurbished computers and digital literacy, conducting free classes and one-on-one and hands-on digital tutorials at its centers and mobile computer labs held in places like libraries and community centers.
Marian McClellan, AAUW member and a volunteer with Connecting for Good, spoke about the great work this organization is doing and then introduced Michael Liimatta, President of the organization, who accepted a check for $3,225 which will “buy” 43 refurbished computers for women and girls in Kansas City who, after taking Connecting for Good’s free classes, are unable to afford the cost of a computer.
True Light Family Resource Center’s Emancipation Station offers homeless, near homeless and community women a safe place to stay during the day while they search for employment and permanent housing. Classes, taught by volunteers, are offered that aim to teach skills that empower women to become self-sufficient and more productive community members.
Alice Piggee-Wallack, True Light’s Executive Director, and Kelli Wright, Board Member, were presented a check for $2,000 to purchase equipment and supplies for Emancipation Station’s Creative Outlet for Women program. These funds will allow tan already-successful sewing program to expand to teach participants simple quilting techniques with the hope that their work will evolve into an art form that is displayable and marketable. The quilts they create will tell a story – the maker’s story.
The Wagy Fund was established through a bequest from Irene Van Der Veer Wagy which is held and managed by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. Funds available through this endowment are supplemented by donations from AAUW-KC members and friends. A Wagy Committee of reads applications from organizations who are seeking grants in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $4,000 and selects from among these. This year’s committee members included Cynthia Ginn, Ellen Johnson, Sara Pedram, Dana Perry, Winnie Weinrich and Chair Jane Crigler. LaVon Colhour, Manager of Community Investment at the Foundation, provided staff support.
2014 Wagy table shots.