Women’s Impact Fund ends year with grant presentations

Published 1:22 pm Thursday, December 28, 2023

Suffolk continued to see the spirit of giving with the Suffolk Foundation Women’s Impact Fund. Led by a group of philanthropic-minded women, the organization wrapped up the year by continuing its philanthropic efforts with its annual Grant Awards Presentation held on Saturday, Dec. 9. Hosted by Suffolk Foundation Women’s Impact Fund Chair Dr. Sharon Raghubar, the organization provided new grant opportunities for selected organizations towards their efforts in supporting women and children.

“This year’s focus was on grassroots organizations that concentrate on navigating life skills that positively enhance the future of women and children in Suffolk. 10 grassroots organizations were invited to apply. Five applied and three qualified,” Raghubar said.

Three programs were selected for the grants: The Nansemond River Preservation Alliance’s 2024 Young Leaders Environmental Internship Program received $1,500 towards funding two internships for female STEM education. Likewise, the College and Career Academy at Pruden received grants for two programs: The academy’s Style Your Future with CCAP Cosmetology Program received $1,500 covering one module and its Certified Nursing Assistant Program received a $4,300 grant. 

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As the ceremony wrapped up, NRPA President Beth Cross, CCAP Principal Connie Burgess, CCAP Adult Education Coordinator Robin Rose and CCAP CNA Student Barbara Whitley shared their thoughts on how positive it was to be recipients and see women united to make a positive difference.

“I think just watching the group of women come together is something that not all of our recipients will be able to see, and so seeing women build up other women is something that you want to be a part of, and you feel really honored that you get to pass it along to somebody,” Cross said.

Rose followed up, noting how heartwarming the ceremony continued to be.

“We were recipients for the past four years, and it gets better every year, and this year we’re just super excited to actually bring a student from the program…,” Rose said. “So, [it’s] just really heartwarming to know that there’s a group that’s out here doing important work for women.”

Burgess also shared how “moved” she was by WIF’s continued support.

“We’ve been able to assist a number of students who are now assisting with varying nursing facilities in our area, building a future not only for their families but for the entire City of Suffolk,” Burgess said. “So to empower a women really empowers an entire community.”

Being a CNA student impacted by the grant, Whitley expressed how “honored” she was to be a part of the ceremony.

“…I can’t wait to help people,” Whitley said. “I love being around people and I can’t wait to be a licensed CNA and it was a very special opportunity to be given this grant, and it really meant a lot to me.”

WIF Founding Member Caroline Martin and fellow WIF Member Ellen Saunders expressed the importance of WIF continuing to make a difference in the community, with Saunders reflecting on the ceremony’s recipients.

“Just being here today and meeting the representatives… It’s very exciting because these are recipients who want to have an important career and make a difference for their families, and the community,” Saunders said. “We need healthcare workers desperately. So it’s exciting to see someone who’s so enthusiastic about her field receive the support that she needs.”

Martin talked about how WIF’s focus on women and children makes them unique, alongside giving women other ways to make a difference.

“I think what’s unique about the Suffolk Women’s Impact Fund is it gives women, who can afford to, an opportunity to make a philanthropic contribution and then they can be as involved as their lives allow them to be, many of them being professional working mothers, raising families themselves,” Martin said. “However, then as they progress, there is more time and more opportunity and perhaps the wisdom of the years and having some leadership capabilities to offer as well. I think if you look around at this gathering in this beautiful setting, you see women of substance.”