Leadership Letter

Susan and I are in awe of the creativity of our committee leaders who consistently think of new ways to grow AAWGT and to work toward our mission of improving the quality of life for women and children in our community.

Here are just a few examples:

  • A discussion of diversity, equity and inclusion among several of our committees led to the Membership Committee creating additional membership contribution levels.
  • Our Grants Committee leaders, seeking to direct our grants to programs that treat the systemic causes of poverty and inequity, met with local community leaders in early August. We wanted to hear directly from them about what they think are the most pressing needs in our county, and what are the most effective ways to address them. We will take what we learned and use it to inform our grant making in 2023.
  • Acknowledging that we are all volunteers, our Leadership Development and Nominating Committee worked with our Governance Committee to allow all of our committees to have more than one assistant chair, so that the work can be logically and efficiently shared between them.
  • On a lighter note, our Membership Committee held our first “Anne Arundel Women Having Coffee Together” event on the morning of August 4. About 25 women gathered at Big Bean Coffee to network, socialize and get to know each other.

The most important among the above is the change in our member contribution levels. Please read the article in this newsletter that explains this revolutionary change.

This newsletter also has really important information about the Grants Showcase, the Founders’ Award, the Cherie Loustaunau Memorial Fund, two grantee spotlights, a recap of our field trip to the Marshall Hope pop-up food pantry, and more.

As the summer draws to a close, we thank you for your support of AAWGT, and we look forward to seeing you at our annual Grants Showcase.

Warmly,

Maryann Gosnell, President
Susan Cook, Vice President

Grantee Spotlight:

Rebuilding Together Anne Arundel County

Single Female Homeowner Renovation Grant

This year’s grant to Rebuilding Together was for $20,000 to renovate 14 homes for female homeowners in need. Rebuilding Together helps those who have nowhere else to turn and provides cost-free home renovations that allow women to age in place and remain an asset to their community. Without assistance from Rebuilding Together and the grant from AAWGT, these women were at risk of becoming homeless or having their home foreclosed on. Their average annual income is $23,000 with no money left over for urgent or critical repairs.

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Fourteen homes were given life-altering repairs. During this year, the Maryland No Heat program ran out of funds and Rebuilding Together was able to step in to help elderly single-family female households. One woman called in during the winter after her HVAC stopped working. She told Rebuilding Together that during the day she used electric space heaters but at night she had to put her dog in her bed so he would not freeze. Another woman said her heat dropped to nearly 32 degrees and she was afraid her home’s pipes would burst. Rebuilding Together was able to intervene in all these circumstances and also installed roofs, ramps, new doors, windows, gutters, handrails, grab-bars and so much more.

Given Covid-related cost increases for materials and the need to use more contractors in light of having fewer volunteers, this was an especially tough year. Cumulatively, these projects would have cost homeowners over $375,000. A full report of these incredible home renovations will be presented at the AAWGT Showcase in September.

2022 AAWGT Founders’ Award

The Founders’ Award recognizes and celebrates the efforts of a member who has demonstrated exemplary service to AAWGT. The award will be presented at our October 18 membership meeting.

The award is based on a member’s outstanding participation in the organization; length of service; specific initiatives and achievements and their impact; innovation; raising awareness about AAWGT; and inspiring and raising the capacity of other members to contribute to AAWGT’s collective good.

To learn more about the award and to nominate a fellow member, click HERE. The deadline for nominations is September 30, 2022.

Event Recap: Field Trip to Marshall Hope's Pop-up Food Pantry


Cost of Meals Given Out at the Pop-up Pantry

  • $30 - dinner for a family of 4
  • $40 - diapers for 1 child for 1 week
  • $60 - toiletries for a family for 1 month
  • $350 - dairy for 1 distribution for 250 families
  • $1,200 - rice, beans and masa for 1 food distribution

When driving up to the Marshall Hope Corporation in West Annapolis on June 23rd, the first thing you see is rows of cars lined up, bumper-to-bumper, ready to receive donations of groceries, feminine products, diapers, cleaning supplies, baby blankets and clothing. Those rows of cars, along with the orderly pick-up stations, illustrate the “why” and the “how” of Marshall Hope’s monthly pop-up food pantry.

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About 30 AAWGT members came to the parking lot of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Annapolis to help out on June 23 for our Post Grants field trip. Due to covid, we hadn’t been able to have our annual field trip since 2019. So it was really exciting when our Post Grants leaders Chair Sarah Sweeney, and Assistant Chairs Bev Nash and Caroline Purdy, connected with Marshall Hope to once again give us first-hand knowledge of how are grants impact those in need.

Marshall Hope received grants from AAWGT in 2021 and 2022. The first grant was $10,000 to help with the food pantry. This year’s grant was $20,000 and was earmarked to purchase diapers, formula and feminine pads for the food pantry, plus supplies for the new Marshall Hope Learning Center. Marshall Hope’s mission is to spread hope in the Annapolis community by providing essential resources and services to members of the Hispanic community who lost their income due to Covid and do not have access to federal aid.

Our members were put right to work that Thursday afternoon placing boxes of diapers onto pallets to be taken to the first station at the pop-up pantry. Other members put portions of rice, beans and masa into bags. That food would be added to the dairy, chicken, vegetables and baked goods that would be handed out.

The food pantry is a feat of organization. Marshall Hope volunteers first go car to car, marking on the windshield how many families are represented by each driver. If the driver’s families need diapers, the required size is also marked on the car. Finally, clothing size is put on a sticky note on the windshield. Drivers then go through the pantry stations three at a time, with volunteers giving them the requested items. Those in need leave with a week’s supply of food. The need was so great that afternoon that the pantry opened early, as the line of cars was reaching out to Ridgely Avenue.

Marshall Hope was founded by Amy Marshall and Diana Love. In April 2020, they joined forces to support the family of an early victim of Covid. They then got a list from an Anne Arundel County Public Schools social worker of 50 families who were desperate for food due to job loss. The organization grew thanks to generous donations of money, a refrigerated truck, and more, so that they are now serving 350 households at each pantry. The Presbyterian church also donates the use of their modular buildings for all food and donation storage. Marshall Hope works with churches of all denominations, and they partner with many local agencies.

We were proud to be able to help Marshall Hope that day, as we work to fulfill our mission to improve the quality of life for women and families in our community.

Cherie Loustaunau Memorial Fund

As an AAWGT member, Cherie Loustaunau was continually moved by the stories of women striving to overcome so much. Cherie’s husband, Michael Kurtz, recalls fondly how Cherie would come home from AAWGT meetings and share stories with him. “She was always so pleased to be a part of AAWGT’s positive impact on the lives of these women.” Soon after joining AAWGT, Cherie became a Lifetime Member, seeing this as a way for her dollars to continue helping women in perpetuity. In 2019, we sadly lost Cherie to pancreatic cancer. In 2020, AAWGT announced a $20,000 Memorial Donation from Michael in memory of Cherie and in honor of her commitment to AAWGT and its mission. In August 2022, the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County announced that Michael has made provisions in his estate to establish the Cherie Loustaunau Memorial Fund as an endowed CFAAC fund benefiting Anne Arundel Women Giving Together. “Cherie believed there is a wider community that needs nurturing and support,” said Michael. “Cherie would be pleased that this endowed fund will keep supporting AAWGT for a long, long, long time.” AAWGT is privileged to be the beneficiary of Cherie and Michael's amazing legacy of giving back — we are grateful for the opportunity to join Michael in honoring Cherie's memory in this way.

Cherie Loustaunau, a long-time AAWGT member, was featured in the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County’s recent newsletter. The newsletter announced a planned gift by Cherie’s husband, Michael Kurtz, which, when realized, will establish the Cherie Loustaunau Memorial Fund with CFAAC, an endowed fund benefiting AAWGT in her honor. Read about Cherie and the fund here.

Not a Member Yet?

Please email us at membership@givingtogether.org if you’d like to be added to the invite list for our next prospective member event.

New AAWGT Membership
Contribution Levels


Our Membership Committee has proposed, and the Steering Committee has approved, new contribution levels of membership in AAWGT. In this new system, members will now be able to choose among five different membership levels. All levels are equal in member benefits, and all members, no matter the level, have one vote. When it comes to approving our slate of officers, voting for nonprofits to receive grants, changing our bylaws, etc., it will be “one member-one vote.”

This change was made possible when the membership voted on August 1 to change our Bylaws so that the Steering Committee could set the member contribution levels.

This article serves to explain the new contribution levels. Recently, all members received a detailed email explaining what these changes will mean to them. Read about the new membership levels HERE.

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These new membership contribution levels were developed after discussions with other giving circles and with our leadership. We believe the change will build on our 16-year legacy of improving the lives of under-served women and families in Anne Arundel County.

As of October 1, 2022, the AAWGT contribution levels will now be:

  • Lifetime: $12,000 (donor-advised fund with the Community Foundation)
  • Sustainer: $1,075/year
  • Ally: $575/year
  • Catalyst: $375/year
  • Friend: $175/year

The $75 administrative fee continues for all levels of membership with the entire contribution remaining tax deductible. A lifetime member’s donor-advised fund pays the member’s annual dues of $500 per year, with the member paying the $75 administrative fee each year.

Goals:

We would like to increase the number of AAWGT members and, at the same time, make membership more financially possible for more women. We recognize that not everyone can afford to pay $575 or $300 to join AAWGT. Our members are very generous, and we doubt they will reduce their dues payment under this new system – and are hopeful they will perhaps even increase it. By expanding our contribution levels, we are hoping to be more inclusive and to be more representative of our community. We believe these potential new members will have perspectives and talents that will be highly beneficial to AAWGT.

Our ultimate goal is to increase the money available for grants. As in the past, we also encourage members to make additional donations to the Grant Fund and to the Endowment Fund. The bottom line is that we want to generate a larger pool of grant dollars by encouraging an ever-growing number of members to give what they can at their comfort level.

The membership levels will be reviewed in two years’ time to see if our goals have been achieved.

Why diversity, equity and inclusion matter:

A more diverse, equitable and inclusive membership will provide more and different perspectives, which will enhance our work in the county. Diversity, equity and inclusion are critical as we continue to grow, change and innovate. Continuing to embed these values within AAWGT offers opportunities to engage the greatest number of stakeholders in every aspect of our mission. Our collective philanthropy encourages outreach to women in a variety of roles and circumstances who share our commitment to our mission.

Changes to membership level upon renewal:

These new membership levels will take effect on October 1, 2022. Each member’s usual renewal date will not change. When it is time for a member to renew, she will receive her usual email notice and at that time, she can choose among the five contribution levels outlined above.

Membership level confidentiality:

Personal membership levels are considered private and will remain undisclosed. The number of people who will know what a member has paid will be kept to an absolute minimum, with everyone understanding the importance of confidentiality.

Conflict of interest issues:

We hope this proposed new membership structure will encourage more nonprofit staff to become AAWGT members. Our governance team has written clear guidelines to prevent conflict-of-interest issues when an AAWGT member is also a founder, director, trustee or staff member of a nonprofit that is applying for a grant or serves on our Post Grants Evaluation Committee or our Grants Committee. These guidelines have been in place for some time and are reviewed frequently. They are available upon request.

We couldn’t have achieved this monumental change in our contribution levels without the hard work of many of our members. Thank you to all who brainstormed, reviewed, researched and collaborated to make it possible.

AAWGT Grants Showcase

Open to the Public

Presentations by 2021 Grantees and Introduction of 2022 Grantees

Tuesday, September 13, 5:30 PM
Temple Beth Shalom, 1461 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd., Arnold, MD

This evening will provide an inspiring opportunity to understand the real impact of AAWGT’s grant making. Please join us to once again mingle and learn about the outstanding nonprofits in Anne Arundel County and the work they are doing to improve the quality of life for women and families. 

Open to AAWGT members and non-members.

To register, click HERE. Follow the registration qeustions all the way to CONFIRM; your confirmation should arrive within seconds. If you have any questions, please contact events@givingtogether.org for assistance.

We will be serving heavy hors d’oeuvres.

We request that all attendees be vaccinated against Covid. Masks are optional.

 

Grantee Spotlight

Court Appointed Special Advocates

CASA Volunteers Speak in Court for Foster Children


Anne Arundel County CASA, Inc. believes every child who has been abused, neglected or abandoned deserves to have a dedicated advocate speaking up for their best interest in court, and in our community. CASA educates and empowers diverse community volunteers who work to ensure each child’s needs remain a priority in an overburdened child welfare system. CASA’s goal is to advocate until each child is living in a safe, permanent home.

Funding from AAWGT has helped AAC CASA serve a total of 117 children, serving 74% of the foster care population in our county. Additionally, 43 children received an appointment of a CASA volunteer, and of the 39 children whose cases closed, 97% were living in a safe, permanent, loving home.

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Funding from AAWGT helped children like Brian. One day Brian’s mother just left and never returned, and Brian went into foster care. Brian was struggling in school, abusing drugs, stealing and running away from his foster homes. Despite this, his CASA, Diane, had unwavering faith in him. Diane was instrumental in locating an appropriate counselor for Brian. She helped him research the GED process, transporting him to classes, and tutored him along the way. Diane was also the loudest person in the auditorium as she cheered for Brian as he received his diploma. Brian aged out of the foster care system. However, Diane has continued her relationship with Brian over the years. She is still his sounding board, and he looks to her for advice when life gets a little tough. Currently, Brian is a department manager at Target. Recently, he got engaged and the first person he called to share this news with was Diane.

The support of AAWGT is a resounding testament to the work CASA volunteers do daily to help abused and neglected children. These children come to them wounded, but they cling to their hopes and dreams. It is AAC CASA’s job to watch over them while in foster care, to make sure all that can be done is done, to help them flourish while a safe, loving and forever home is found.

Take Us for a Spin

Want to learn more about our giving circle and get to know its members better? Take AAWGT for a spin by contacting a committee chair to see how you can become involved. The variety of work that our committees do means that there’s a good chance you will find one that fits your interests and schedule. Whether you are a new member or have belonged for a while, you’ll meet new friends AND make an impact on our community. Click HERE for a list of committees and their chairs and assistant chairs. Thank you!

Upcoming Events

Book Group: A great way to get involved, meet other members and learn something new. Be sure to register for these members-only meetings on our website.

September 8: Zoom or member’s home: “Bellevue” by David Oshinski
October 25: Zoom or member’s home: “The Sum of Us” by Heather McGee
November 15: Zoom likely: Annual Book and Film Planning Meeting

Racial Equity Study Group: All members are invited to join this group. Just send an email to Betsy Chotin or register through our website so that you will get a link to the monthly Zoom meetings, held the second Tuesday of the month from 4-5 p.m. Members are welcome to just listen in or participate. Now rounding out our fourth year with over 70 members, we address topics both historic and current, bring in speakers and listen to each other, all just to learn for ourselves or figure out new ways our giving circle can expand what we do through grants, education programs and outreach. No homework, no obligation. Just come and see what our ever-growing group has to say!


Find us on Facebook:
Anne Arundel Women Giving Together | giving@givingtogether.org
AAWGT is a fund of the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County
AAWGT is a member of Philanos: Accelerating Philanthropy through Women’s Collective Giving


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