In just six years, a group of local women have managed to award more than $160,000 to help area women and girls throughout Charlevoix and Emmet counties. And because of the growing need in the region, the circle hopes to expand and thus serve even more.
The Hestia Giving Circle, formed in 2005, is a donor-advised fund through the Charlevoix County Community Foundation. The circle — which strives to promote the economic self-sufficiency and well-being of women and girls in the two counties — provides an opportunity for women to work together to make a significant impact on those in the area, while also educating themselves about issues facing women and girls in the community.
“It started as a group of seven or eight women who decided we really wanted to make a difference here in our community,” said circle member, Denise Simon.
The circle is named for the Greek goddess Hestia, who expresses her love and concern for others through thoughtful acts.
Grant applications are now being sought to help fund area projects. Applications are due Feb. 1 and grants will be announced in May, with money awarded in mid-June.
Organizations applying for grants must have a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit status or be a school or government agency, or have a fiscal agent with a nonprofit status.
“The main thrust of the circle is that we are pro choice and we support programs that really benefit women and children,” said circle member Christine Carpenter. “I think it’s important for people to realize that we do have that pro choice stance, but what we’re funding are things that benefit health care for women and equipment purchases.”
Programs funded have been the Planned Parenthood cervical cancer prevention and sexuality education programs; Child & Family Services of Northwest Michigan pregnancy counseling program; Inland Seas Education Association scholarships for girls; Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency healthy relationship program for girls; Petoskey Montessori Children’s House childcare tuition for single mothers; Voices Without Borders youth choir scholarships for girls; Women’s Resource Center employment services and Children’s Learning Center; and YMCA of Northern Michigan for scholarships for girls to attend summer day camp.
Of the money raised, 1.5 percent goes to the Charlevoix County Community Foundation for administrative expenses, the rest goes directly to programs and projects.
“These grants really help change someone’s life,” Carpenter said. “I’ve seen just how much of a difference we’ve made and it’s been incredible. You really help someone in a difficult situation.”
“It’s really great to help others with things like finding a job, a house, childcare — things we take for granted,” Simon added. “I think we often forget how much need there is in our area.”
The Hestia Giving Circle is actively seeking new members to help fund more projects.
The circle currently has 36 memberships, shared by 46 women. The annual membership fee is $1,000 which can be shared by two women, including many women and their daughters or friends.
Applications for the grants will be available on the foundation’s website at www.c3f.org, by clicking on the “all about grants” link.
Potential applicants should call Maureen Radke at the Charlevoix County Community Foundation at (231) 536-2440 prior to filling out an application.
The Giving Circle is especially interested in supporting smaller organizations that may have limited access to other sources of funding.
For more information about the Giving Circle, contact Christine Carpenter at (231) 348-0736, Diane Neal at (231) 242-0298, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.