Six months ago the Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way of Lowcountry made its entrance into the Lowcountry common good scene. A steering committee of women, led by volunteer Chairwoman Linda Tarr-Whelan and Co-chair Katie Pfifer, is focused on making a difference in Beaufort and Jasper Counties by increasing the engagement of women supporting United Way.
One hundred (100). That’s the number of women the initiative has mustered to date. The Council members come from different walks of life, but they share one common goal: to make a difference in their community. They intend to strengthen the social landscape in their backyard by involving members to inspire others to take action. More specifically, these women are forging the way to a better future through their gifts of time, leadership and financial support.
The Council has held seven forums or “house parties” since the spring and four additional meetings are scheduled to transpire before the end of the year. These gatherings give the group an opportunity to tell the story of what they are doing, recruit additional women, and to answer questions.
The Council’s goals are directly linked to teams of women whose actions directly serve to create a better future. There is the tutoring and reading team that is assisting in the enlistment and engagement of 600 tutors in the local market to ultimately lower the high school dropout rate. Then there is the celebration team whose efforts will celebrate the WLC’s one year anniversary with a local recognition event called the Power of Your Purse. The Power of Your Purse seeks to recognize female philanthropists and activists in Beaufort and Jasper counties who make a tremendous difference.
“What a great opportunity to recognize leadership among women in Beaufort and Jasper County by calling attention to their role as an enormous resource in terms of time and money to benefit the common good,” says Clarece Walker, CEO and president of the United Way of the Lowcountry.
There’s a challenge associated with the efforts of the local WLC. That is, the local group has responded to United Way National’s call to action to increase the number of volunteers working on the reading issue, where nationally the goal is to increase it by one million. “We can help deliver one of the most crucial ingredients to the healthy development of young children,” says Juana Slade, chair of United Way National’s Women’s Leadership Council and an At-Large Board Member with the United Way of Anderson County in South Carolina.
“We can cultivate a joy of learning and a desire for education. We can help parents and teachers instill the language and vocabulary skills that children need to achieve their dreams. We can encourage children to choose reading as a free-time activity, to open up new worlds and the promise of a better life ahead.”
In 2013 a national summit of the Women’s Leadership Councils will be held in Charleston, South Carolina
(March 6 – 8, 2013). The location by design presents a unique opportunity for South Carolina to showcase its capacity to empower women to a national audience.
Collectively over 120 council members nationwide contributed about $155 million dollars last year.
“We have a greater influence on many lives because of our combined financial support and time. I feel well-connected to these women and United Way. The greatest benefits are the relationships and the compassion, inspiration and leadership we learn from each other as we serve,” says Linda Tarr-Whelan.
To learn more about United Way of the Lowcountry’s Women’s Leadership Council call (843) 982.3040 or visit uwlowcountry.com on the web.