Nearly $20,000 in grants benefit local women and children

During its annual Gifts and Grants ceremony in June, the Women’s Giving Circle announced grant awards for five nonprofits serving the Dubuque region.

Access to food. Caregiver support. Healthy sleeping. Vision care. The issues this year’s five Women’s Giving Circle of Greater Dubuque nonprofit grantees address are critical, and thanks to nearly $20,000 in new funding, they can deepen their positive impact across the Dubuque region.

During their annual Gifts and Grants Ceremony June 14 at the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Women’s Giving Circle members announced that their 2023 grants would be awarded to:

  • Friends of the Volga Public Library, which received $5,000 for its Friends, Food, and Fun program. The program ensures children and families in the rural community of Volga can access to healthy food options, improve their dietary habits through nutrition education, and learn how to live healthy lifestyles. During the academic year, schools are a key source of healthy food for children experiencing food insecurity. In the summer, the library fulfills the need while school is out.
  • St. Vincent de Paul, which received $4,815 for its Better Sleep, Better Health program. St. Vincent de Paul has the only dedicated inventory of conventional mattresses, box springs and frames available to children and adults in Dubuque. Its Women's Giving Circle grant will enable it to purchase an additional 40 conventional mattresses, 40 box springs and 40 frames — all twin and full size — which will be distributed to those lacking access to proper sleep furniture that can support better health.
  • Tri-State VIATS, which received $4,755 for its Guatemalan Garden Co-Op and Food Security Project. Through this project, volunteers deliver healthy, culturally appropriate foods to about 21 local immigrant households every four to six weeks. The program also encompasses the Grow Your Own Food initiative, which provides garden supplies to Guatemalan and Marshallese families so they can grow their own food, and the Guatemalan Community Garden Co-Op, an outgrowth of Grow Your Own Food.
  • Vision to Learn, which received $3,100 for its Increasing Access to Vision Care in the Dubuque Community School District program. Founded in 2012 with support from the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, Vision To Learn brings free vision care directly to schools using a mobile clinic staffed with an optometrist and optician. It eliminates cost, time and transportation barriers for families by coordinating screenings, conducting exams, and supplying glasses. It also provides two free pairs of glasses — one for school and one for home — to each student in need.
  • Stonehill Communities, which received $2,305 for its Supporting Women and Mothers as Caregivers program. The Caregiver Resource Center, located at Stonehill, is a place where non-professionals who provide care for loved ones with chronic illnesses can go for an array of resources — most at no cost. These include an educational, medical and legal lending library, social work consultations, support groups, referrals to community services and self-care opportunities. The Women’s Giving Circle grant will support expansion of these services to mothers caring for children with chronic illnesses.

“I know there are a lot of needs in the community, and I am so appreciative that we got this funding, because it changes people’s lives,” Catherine Caitlin, director of Tri-State VIATS, said as she accepted her grant. “I think you can judge a community by the women in the community — you all are amazing, and the Guatemalan women I work with are amazing, too.”

While reviewing grant applications, Women’s Giving Circle members recognized a recurring need: access to basic menstrual and hygiene products. As a result, the group will give special attention to this need as its “honorable mention” award this year. The Circle’s fall gathering on September 14 will be dedicated to learning more about how to fill the gaps in access to these products.

The Women’s Giving Circle is convened by the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, which also hosts its endowment fund. Since 2006, the endowment has grown to nearly $500,000, which pays out 5% each year to support grants for local nonprofits addressing the needs of women and children in the Dubuque region.

“Over the past 17 years, we have awarded 60 grants totaling over $150,000, thanks to your generous contributions to the Women’s Giving Circle Endowment Fund and Grant Making Fund,” Women’s Giving Circle President Liz Kruse, told attendees. “With a growing endowment fund, we anticipate our grant making budget will continue to grow each year.”

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