Women on the Move Network (WOTMN) carried on its flagship program, Who’s Your Hero? At three school sites in Rialto and Rancho Cucamonga, as well as a residential facility in LaVerne, serving well over 100 girls in age- appropriate groups at a cost of approximately $300.00 per participant, for a school year. The weekly sessions were conducted by trained volunteers who followed a planned curriculum that enabled the girls to become more confident, form appropriate relationships, be of service to others and, in general, move toward the expected outcomes of the program. In addition, a program of monthly workshops for adult women was carried out to empower, educate and encourage the participants and emphasize the organization’s overall focus on the promotion of gender equality.
WOTMN is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that operates solely on grants, donations and in-kind contributions of goods or services, in addition to the proceeds from two fund-raisers per year. The organization builds collaborative relationships with like-minded community groups, such as universities and other non-profit groups of public benefit.
During the 2018-2019 program year a substantial grant was received from the Arconic Company. In addition grants were received from the Ejtemai foundation and also from Forgiving for Living , a new community partner this year. Various other smaller donations were received. A Gala Fundraiser was held in December.
Who’s Your Hero? participants engaged in sessions on expressing feelings, conflict resolution, promoting unity, healthy friendships and helping the environment. A service project raised awareness about elderly people in nursing homes, and the girls made beautiful greetings cards to be delivered to the residents. Another group attended a musical play that taught about the struggle for freedom from slavery. An art session that promoted self-esteem was a favorite with another group. Still another hosted a Family Fund night and raised money for an end-of year picnic.
Although there were some changes in volunteer staff and in school sites, we finished the year with relatively solid program and financial bases and confidence in the future of our programs and our organization.
WOMEN ON THE MOVE NETWORK BOARD OF DIRECTORS
In January 2018 we began the New Year with our flagship program, WYH operational at Perdew Elementary School in Rancho Cucamonga, Kucera Middle School in Rialto, and at David & Margaret Youth and Family Services in LaVerne. The programs were staffed with college and community volunteers from Western University of Health Sciences, University of LaVerne and from a new supporter, World Financial Group.
At our Annual Meeting, held in February due to a delay, it was decided to dedicate our work this year to the memory of our two esteemed departed members, Eileen Norman and Gry Kvalheim. Their families were notified of the dedication. We received a contribution from the Norman family. It was decided after several attempts to carry out an election of officers, to ask the current officers to continue in place for the year.
The school-based mentoring programs in Rancho Cucamonga and Rialto continued to successfully provide girls ages nine to eleven and twelve to fourteen with meaningful experiences which enabled the girls to become more confident, form appropriate relationships, be of service to others and, in general, move toward the expected outcomes of the programs. At Perdew the girls planned and carried out a successful Family Night Bingo Party. They learned about hostessing, about serving food correctly, making change, running the Bingo games, distributing prizes, and generally being responsible for the event, which raised several hundred dollars. Those funds were later used for an end-of year picnic for the girls and their parents, at a local park.
At Kucera in Rialto, the girls took part in age-appropriate activities and, among other topics, learned about the lives of famous women of achievement. As a result, they were able to put on an impressive end-of-year program for the whole school in which they each assumed the role of a famous woman, made large posters, memorized quotations from that person and dressed in her style. The presentation was very powerful. In addition, the girls from Kucera Middle School attended a theatrical production, O, Freedom at the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center. The musical production used historical vignettes to tell significant stories about the struggle for freedom from slavery in the United States. Board members, mentors and parents accompanied the girls, most of whom had never seen live theater before. After the show, many meaningful conversations took place, as the girls were eager to tell about their feelings and what they learned. The outing provided not only a memorable cultural experience, but a way to help the girls learn more about a very difficult time in our country’s history, in a way that helped history come alive.
An important part of our WYH curriculum is the importance of being of service to others. This year our participants learned a bit about the lives and needs of the elderly residents of senior care facilities,
especially loneliness and the desire to interact with young people. Our girls made many beautiful
holiday cards, with heartfelt messages. The cards were delivered to residents of two senior care facilities. Many of the girls expressed a desire to deliver the cards personally and visit with the recipients. We were unable to arrange the logistics for visits this year, but we are committed to finding ways for at least some of the girls to make such visits in the coming year.
Because of changes to the Los Angeles County regulations and criteria for placing young girls in residential facilities, the population at David and Margaret Youth and Family Services underwent a few changes. Our program had to adjust, as well, but our excellent mentor team there was equal to the task. A number of engaging projects were offered, to give the girls opportunities to express themselves and explore ideas. One of the most successful activities was given by a guest presenter, an artist who worked on building self-esteem through painting, it truly enabled the girls to step outside of themselves and was so engaging the girls did not want to leave the session when it ended. We had received a special donation to pay the artist for this session. She was so captivated by the reaction of the girls that she offered to cut her price so we could afford another session in the future, which we will do. We also had an end-of-year picnic for the David and Margaret girls at a local park. This was the first time we had taken the girls off campus. It was very successful. The girls relaxed and related to the mentors and volunteers in a completely different manner. We included games, art and lots of food, which everyone enjoyed.
Through our programming at the sites described above we were able to serve about 110 girls. We are proud that we are able to touch the lives of so many girls in positive ways.
For our valiant mentors, themselves, we had an appreciation luncheon in June. We gave gifts and made certain the mentors knew how much we value and appreciate their work. The principal of Kucera Middle School also spoke eloquently about the value of our program for her students.
Since our long-time Executive Director of the mentoring program had informed the Board previously that she would not be available past the end of the school year, we looked for an alternate way of managing the programs. After considerable discussion it was decide to establish a Management Team, with former program assistant Rose Villegas as the Manager, and two volunteer assistants; their term beginning July 1, 2018. Since there were two summer interns available from the University of LaVerne, they were assigned to the management team for the summer.
As school began to open in the fall, the normal steps were taken to recruit volunteer mentors from the universities, confirm arrangements with school principals, train and assign mentors. We learned that our very supportive principal at Kucera Middle School had suddenly decided to retire, and there was a new principal. For reasons of her own, the new principal decided not to have WHO’s YOUR HERO? at Kucera. We set about to locate another interested middle school in Rialto. In addition, there were some logistical hitches in the training of the new mentors, resulting in delays of program start dates. In addition, we were not able to immediately replace the summer interns on the Management Team, leaving the Manager without sufficient help.
Fortunately, through efforts of various Board Members, the former director and others, some emergency plans were set in place, new mentors were found and trained, another program assistant was located, school connections were renewed and new ones made, and we enter 2019 with three new school sites ready to go, and a much more hopeful outlook. The new sites are Hughbanks Elementary and Kolb Middle School in Rialto, and Los Amigos Elementary in Rancho Cucamonga. Arrangements are still in progress at David and Margaret Youth And Family Services in LaVerne.
In addition to our mentoring program, we have the monthly Women’s Empowerment Workshops for
adult women. We provide an opportunity for women to learn, explore and share in a welcoming, safe environment. Recent workshop topics have been on Eldercare, Mindful Stress Management, the Importance of Forgiveness, and Using Social Media. One particularly powerful session was conducted by staff from the Purple Hearts organization on domestic violence, and their innovative program of rehabilitation for families who have experienced such trauma. In a valued reciprocal spirit, one of our Board Members, lawyer Soheila Azizi, spoke about legal issues at a Purple Hearts function, and an exchange brought one of their staff to our Women’s Empowerment Workshop. Collaborations of this type are highly desirable, and we hope to have more of them.
PARTNERSHIPS AND RELATIONSHIPS
We continue to have supportive relationships with local universities, the University of LaVerne, Western University of Health Sciences, Chaffey College, and also with the City of Rancho Cucamonga. Two of our Board members sit on the Healthy RC Steering Committee, and one additional Board Member works with the Compassionate Communities group. In December of 2018 we were awarded a Plaque of Recognition as a valued partner with the Healthy RC Steering Committee.
We formed a new partnership with another non-profit, Forgiving for Living. They also work with young girls in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, and will be co-presenting one session a month at the middle school in Rialto, with sessions that dovetail with our curriculum. They sealed the agreement with at $1,000 donation to WOTMN, along with the promise of future financial assistance. In addition, the Director of Forgiving for Living, Wendy Gladney, conducted one of our Women’s Empowerment Workshops. Her session was very well received and spoke to the hearts of all who attended, as evidenced by the fact that the session went more than thirty minutes over time, because the participants were so eager to continue the helpful discussions.
We agreed to support the National Council of Negro Women Bethune-Height Scholarship luncheon.
Through a donation by an individual, we were able to take a full-page ad in the luncheon program booklet, giving our best wishes to the group and advertising our Women’s Empowerment Workshops. Two of our members attended the luncheon.
Our Advisory Council, which had experienced somewhat of a slump, was re-launched with a bang in August, with a luncheon meeting at which a number of guests were in attendance. The group re-formed with old and new members and continues to be of enormous help to us. One long-time member, Ruby Huey, was invited to join the Board of Directors, which she did for a brief time, but after a significant change in her work situation she had to leave the Board and the Council. It is important to note that she was the connection who enabled us to apply for, and receive, the Arconic grant. We are so grateful. Stacia Pravongviengkham, Sharon Griffin, Elizabeth McSwain and Ziba Imani are new members of the Council, and serve with continuing members Diane Williams and Jaye Houston.
Funding has been a consistent issue for us. This past year we received a huge boost in the form of a $20,000 grant from the Arconic Foundation. We received the funds in August; they are for the mentoring program only. In addition we received the previously mentioned donation from Forgiving For Living, another $1,000 donation from the Ejtemai Foundation and a number of small donations from individuals. We also launched a special donation effort as a memorial to long-time supporter, Dr. Adrienne Reeves, who passed away in August. In December we held a Fundraiser Masquerade Gala at Beola’s Southern Cuisine Restaurant, which is owned by one of our Advisory Council members, Elizabeth McSwain. The Masquerade Gala was well-received and introduced our work to a number of new friends and supporters. We will be re-activating our Jewels program which targets specific amounts based on our historic cost of $300.00 per year to fund one girl participant in the WYH Program. Since we are an all-volunteer organization, stimulating a steady flow of donations is critical. It should be noted that the $300.00 per/participant cost does not include any administrative costs. We also seek in-kind donations of goods or services, which are extremely helpful. One significant example this year was the donation of event space for the Masquerade Fundraiser Gala at Beola’s Southern Cuisine Restaurant’s new banquet room.
PUBLICITY AND PROMOTION
We have been aware for some time that our website needed to be upgraded. Finally this year we were able to accomplish that with the effort of a marketing professional, one of our supporters. Although some further refinement is needed, at least now we have something to which we can refer inquirers.
An important next step is to revise and reprint our brochures and business cards. We know we need to learn more about effectively using social media for publicity and fund-raising. Educating ourselves and securing additional assistance are tasks for the 2019 – 2020 year.
As we move into our 18th year of operation we consider that the outlook is good. We are serving girls and women, we are becoming known in the community and we have positive relationships with an increasing number of worthwhile community entities. We are eager to grow and to make more of a difference in the lives of women and girls each year. We are grateful to the parents who entrust their daughters to us, and to the many volunteers who give freely of their time and talents. It is a privilege to be able to do the work we do, and we look forward to continuing for years to come.
WOMEN ON THE MOVE NETWORK
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CALIFORNIA
The data below were collected from the participants via a paper questionnaire. The questionnaire was distributed and data collection was supervised by the on-site mentors. The summary of the data for each question is shown below.
The chart above lists the responses with the most frequency. Participants also listed differences, dealing with and managing situation, types of bullies, independence, fairness, fun, heroes, strong women and self-esteem.
Participants were asked to explain how the things they talked about at WYH helped them make decisions. Below is a summary of their comments.
It helps me make decisions when I don’t think it is the right thing * When I get mad, I have ways to calm myself * It has helped me with my anger and just talking to others girls made me feel happy * The things at WYH helped me when I make decisions because the program helps me be a better person * I have learned how to be more confident in myself, and that everyopne has fake friends, not just me * We can do anything because we are powerful * I have help with my decision to eat better *We learn not to fight but go tell an adult when things go wrong * Using integrity when I make everyday decisions * I recognize I still need help * Use it and try harder * If I do wrong I will be remorseful.
Anything else you would like to say about WYH?
This program is AWESOME * More field trips please * I get to learn new things and better solutions * It helped me make new friends * Could we have snacks * I love this program.
PROGRAM SITES AND PERSONNEL
PERDEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, Etiwanda School District
Principal, Mrs. Kelly Bray
Participants, 4th and 5th grades
Mentors: 5 from World Financial Group
1 from the community
KUCERA MIDDLE SCHOOL, Rialto Unified School District
Principal, Mrs. Monique Conway
Participants, 6th and 7th grades
Mentors: 4 from World Financial Group
2 from the community
DAVID AND MARGARET YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, LaVerne
Site Contact: Mrs. Cheryl Kroll
Participants: High School ages
Mentors: 3 from Western University of Medical Sciences
2 from World Financial Group
WOMEN ON THE MOVE NETWORK is profoundly grateful for the valiant support of these facilities and individuals, and for the tremendous effort that resulted in making a difference in the lives of our WHO’S YOUR HERO? girls.