United Way of Washtenaw County makes grants to four organizations supporting local women

The United Way of Washtenaw County has awarded grants amounting to over $45,000 to four local organizations that help local women and their families. 

Funds for the grants were raised in the United Way of Washtenaw County's annual Power of the Purse event, which was held in March of this year. Avalon Housing, Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley, House N2 Home, and the Trusted Advisor initiative were each awarded a grant.

"We’ve done a Power of the Purse event for almost 15 years now, and all of those funds always go to women-centric programming," says United Way of Washtenaw County President and CEO Pam Smith. "We feel like it’s an honor and a privilege to do what we do. We're a relatively small nonprofit, but we have thousands of volunteers who really make programs happen in our community. United Way is set up to engage the community to help the community. It’s not just one act or person."

Avalon Housing assists women and their families exiting homelessness by providing them permanent housing as well as other supports to ensure their wellbeing and stability. The organization was chosen by United Way of Washtenaw County due to the high number of single women heads of households in Washtenaw County, according to Smith.

"The great thing about United Way grants is that they are unrestricted," Smith says. "These groups can do what they need to do in their community and we don’t restrict what they can do."

Habitat for Humanity Huron Valley has been assisting women and families with low to moderate incomes to help them become homeowners. 

"With support like UW's Power of the Purse, we were able to continue serving our community with affordable homeownership when it has become more challenging to attain," said Alison Oumedian, a development associate with Habitat for Humanity, via email. "A large part of our homeowners are single-family women head of household, and funding like this allows us to continue transforming lives and communities." 

House N2 Home, a first-time United Way of Washtenaw County grantee, helps to provide household goods, appliances, and furnishings for women exiting homelessness to make their new permanent housing feel like their own.

"They make sure that when you get to this cold empty apartment, there’s a couch to sit on, a bed to sleep in, and a pot to cook in," Smith says.

The Trusted Advisor initiative, a program of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD), is a collaborative of women and mothers working in lower opportunity areas of Washtenaw County not only to help provide support to other women and their families, but also to help women find community and belonging in their neighborhoods. 

"Relationships are key to every aspect of the Trusted Parent Advisor work," said Colleen Klus, community engagement specialist with Success by 6 Great Start Collaborative at WISD, via email. "For five years, Trusted Parents have cultivated trust with historically marginalized families and the organizations in the County that serve those families."

More information about Power of the Purse and other United Way of Washtenaw County programming is available here.

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.

Photo courtesy of WISD.
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