By: Maury Harris
Women from the Vancouver Women's Foundation smiling.

Every day, thousands of women in southwest Washington juggle competing responsibilities while trying to achieve their goals. Some also live on razor-thin margins. For them, a few hundred dollars can be life-changing. A flat tire can mean choosing between paying rent or losing a job. An $85 bus ticket might stand between an abusive relationship and a safe place to stay.

“We help women who have tried everything else. We women to know someone is here if they hit a bump in the road.”
– Susan Courtney

In 2000, Jan Oliva had heard enough of these stories and gathered a group of women who created the first giving circle at the Community Foundation—the Vancouver Women’s Foundation (VWF). Their idea: empower women who are facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

“Often the smallest gifts have the biggest impact in a person’s life.”
– Jan Oliva (Summer 2009 Newsletter)

Since then, the Vancouver Women’s Foundation has blossomed into a thriving network that hovers around 50 members who contribute annually. An internal committee meets regularly to carefully vet requests and recommend one-time grants that range from $500 to $10,000. Since its beginning, VWF has granted almost $2.5 million in ways that offer women—and in many cases, their children—a critical hand up.

From covering healthcare costs to repairing vehicles, this group of women provides a “last resort” for other women facing crises or barriers on their path toward independence. In doing so, VWF has proven that greater impact is possible when people pool resources and focus on a specific cause. For them, that will always mean uplifting women in Clark County.

“We respond quickly to help individual women who are suddenly faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.”
– Cathy Corwin (Winter 2001 Newsletter)
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About The Author

Maury Harris

Maury Harris crafts key messages that promote the foundation’s products, services and brand. Outside of stringing words together, he is passionate about the natural world and tries to hit the trail as much as possible with his family.