The room was filled with light, love and laughter at a recent Women’s Fund luncheon, where we celebrated mothers, daughters and other women who inspire us. Members and guests were asked to think about and name a particular woman who has had a significant influence in their life. To take it a step further, we were asked to describe that special person with one word. Attached to beautiful names were words such as servant, wise, humble, selfless, strong. It was a rich and meaningful experience, as we rediscovered how a name has a legacy.
Courage also had a name that day. A brave client of Goodwill Industries of East Texas told us her story of finding hope through the Goodwill program A Second Chance for Her. This program, funded by a grant from the Women’s Fund, combines job-readiness training, counseling, social skills classes and job placement assistance to women returning to Smith County from prison incarceration, and helps them successfully reintegrate into the community. To stand before us, a life transformed, took great valor. Because someone believed in her and offered her a second chance, this young woman now believes in herself and is working to break the cycle. Hers is a moving tale of lessons learned, forgiveness received and purpose found in life again.
It is very powerful to be a part of someone’s journey of restoration, and the Women’s Fund is proud to have been a part of many such journeys in our 10-year history. Our annual grants to area nonprofits initiate or expand projects and programs that will bring about positive change in the lives of women and children in Smith County. We are a circle of givers, surrounding those we serve.
There’s something about a circle. It’s one of the first shapes we learn to draw, because it’s easy. It’s not difficult. There are no sharp edges, no hard lines. It’s soft and simple, with no beginning and no end. In our kindergarten classrooms, we often would sit in a circle for story time or for a special lesson. On the playground, we would hold hands with our best friends and play ring-around-the-rosie. A circle is the shape of the sun and the moon, when they’re at their brightest.
It’s no wonder, then, the Women’s Fund of Smith County is described as a giving circle. Together, in this way, we see each other, we listen to one another and we are connected. We each give individually but, in our circle, our gift is leveraged to have a deeper impact. Our circle will not be broken. The only reason to let go of another’s hand is to join hands with someone new. It keeps going and growing, giving and giving. The bigger the circle, the greater the gifts, the more lives touched.
Our name is the Women’s Fund of Smith County. Our hope is that our name and our mission will leave a legacy. In so doing, we give rise to the strength in others. The soft, simple, bright truth is we want those we serve in our community to know they, too, have a name.
Kristen Seeber serves as president of the Women’s Fund of Smith County, a collective giving and grant-making circle. Membership is open to all women interested in learning more about philanthropy. Visit www.womensfundsc.org for information about our mission, membership and to apply for a community grant. Applications for the 2018 Women’s Fund grants open online June 12.