Group seeks help to create positive change for women

Focus is placed on diversity and inclusion

The Women’s United branch of the United Way in Gloucester County helps to foster healthy women, children and families across the county. Two of their major projects include the Born Learning Trails and a collection of school supplies for underprivileged students.

Women’s United is seeking members of the Gloucester County community to join its efforts in creating positive changes for women, children and families in the area.

There are currently 70,000 women participating in Women United Worldwide, and Gloucester County is one of 165 communities across six  countries who participate. The nonprofit is part of a global network that creates opportunities for communities to become self-sufficient and have their critical needs met. Women’s United uses that same platform, with a focus on women, children and families.

“We are a group of passionate women volunteers committed to dignity and positive change,” said Joan Dillon, vice chair for Women’s United. “Our focus is in the area of education support and mentoring. This year, we wanted to refocus a little bit and narrow in on the areas that are not only in alignment with our mission, but also meaningful to the members as well.  

“I think our goal is always to build the self-sufficiency of women, children and families in the area,” explained Nicole Morse, director of community initiatives for the United Way of Gloucester County. “To take them from a hard time in their life and build them to be active contributing members of our county, no matter what that looks like.”

An ongoing project for Women’s United is the creation and installation of Born Learning Trails in community parks across the county to help foster childhood development, education and healthy practices. Parks can be found in Clayton, Woodbury and West Deptford, and new ones are being developed in surrounding areas.

“The Born Learning Trail is geared towards kids up to third grade, and there are stations set up in the park, so when you are moving, you are also learning. There is some math, science and literacy,” said Dillon.

“They are opportunities for children to continue to learn and build on the foundation of learning,” added Jennifer Liberi-Middleton, executive chair for Women’s United. “It is really to encourage parents and caregivers to let the child lead the activity and build that foundation of learning and curiosity.”

The organization constantly seeks other areas for park trails. Women’s United puts up half of the $3,000 it takes to create the attractions, then  looks for local businesses, other nonprofits or clubs to raise the rest of the money and be part of the project. 

“The major thing we ask the township to do, because there is no financial up front for them, we do ask them to help upkeep, do a ribbon-cutting and help announce it to the community and then help us install,” said Morse. “We order the signs and get everything made. 

“We have had amazing luck finding people in each town who would like to be featured on that.”

Other organization initiatives include fundraisers for books and school supplies, grants to other organizations who have similar goals and the creation of events for fundraising and education.

“Women’s United will be participating in our International Women’s Day networking lunch,” Morse noted. “That will be held virtually on International Women’s Day, in conjunction with SNJ Millennials and Pop FM 99.9. Professional development and the growth of our membership is really important.”

Women’s United always seeks new members to bring additional revenue and skill sets to the organization. It also works to create a more diverse group of women who will, in turn, create more opportunities and ideas for  improving the community.

“Not only are we looking to attract more members, because the more we attract the greater impact we can have on the community, But we also want to be inclusive and attract a more diverse group,” said Liberi-Middleton. 

According to Dillon, a newly created calendar of events will be available at the end of March with more information about upcoming programs and projects.

The organization hosts a monthly meeting every third Tuesday of the month at 5:30 pm. Interested parties can reach out to Morse at nmorse@uwgcnj.org for more information on how to become part of the Women’s United organization. For more information on the United Way, visit https://uwgcnj.org.