Change that Matters

Women for Women Enews from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina

CHANGE THAT MATTERS: New Beginnings for Homeless Women and Girls
The essence of Women for Women is helping women and girls through funded projects. During the course of a project, the program manager submits interim and final progress reports, which are read by the Grants Committee. We thought it might be worthwhile for members to see how interesting these reports can be. This particular project report from Homeward Bound of WNC describes both the people helped by the grant and the children who got involved as helpers.

Homeward Bound received $50,000 during 2013-2015 to create an advocacy campaign that educates the community about how homelessness affects women and children in Buncombe and Henderson counties. Targeting faith communities and female-owned businesses, Homeward Bound hoped to eradicate the stereotype that the homeless are mostly adult men and to shed light on the often unseen homeless population of women and children. The following is excerpted from their final report:

The systemic change we sought with this funding was a significant increase in involvement from the community resulting in increased capacity to change the lives of homeless women and girls by moving them into permanent housing and providing the services they need to stay housed. In the past two years, we have seen a dramatic increase in volunteerism, giving, and communications from individuals, businesses, civic groups, and faith communities. As a result, we have been able to move 473 women and girls out of homelessness into permanent housing. Most importantly, we increased the economic security of 603 women and girls: 91% of the 143 participants in our Women at Risk program reported greater economic security after program participation.

Part of our goal was to change the conversation about homelessness by changing the face of homelessness in our community. Through raising community awareness about the realities and impact of homelessness on women and girls, we have been able to expand the conversation about who is homeless and why, generating more empathy and active support for the most vulnerable in our community. This focus also allowed us to expand the reach of that conversation to include a broader demographic.

For example, this past year, a classroom at Rainbow Community School sponsored a move-in for a homeless family - students and their families collected furniture and housewares to welcome a homeless family into a new home. This type of experience not only positively impacts the newly housed family, but also the students who were involved and creates a ripple effect in the community, generating greater awareness. This WFW grant has been a meaningful part of the up-swell of community support for Homeward Bound's work, reaching a tipping point where we have greater name recognition, a much broader base of support, and unprecedented investment from the community in our work.