Staff Blog

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This is a space where Foundation staff share their thoughts and musings on giving and community:

Changing the Story

Posted by: Meg Smith on 11/1/2016

Not long ago, I stopped at the Williston rest area off of I-89. A woman in a uniform caught my eye as she ushered four little children to the facility’s reception desk. Surprised, I asked if she brought her kids to work every day, she said, “No, I’m their grandmother! Their mom usually picks them up after her job but she was late today so I had to bring them with me.” When I marveled at how well she handled it all, she said, “It’s the least I can do to help out. My daughter works hard but only makes minimum wage. And daycare is so expensive, there’s no way she can manage that as well.” 

That’s the kind of story that motivates me to do my very best in my role at the Vermont Women’s Fund. This grandmother’s story brings up two major challenges: childcare and the economic situation of Vermont women. Many families struggle with the cost and limited availability of childcare, and organizations like the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children are making some amazing progress in that arena. I’m proud to be working on the economic piece of the puzzle. Improving economic security for women like the grandmother I met in Williston and her hardworking daughter will have a positive ripple effect on our overall economy. Our grantmaking and our collaborative initiative with the Vermont Commission on Women and Vermont Works for Women, Change The Story, aim to achieve just that. Change The Story has been working hard on collecting data about the economic situations of women in Vermont and sharing out what we’ve learned with government, business, and community leaders. Meanwhile, our grantmaking continues to support programs that help young women ages 12-25 to learn skills that will help them succeed in Vermont’s economy.

We have many challenges to overcome, but I am encouraged every day by the responses I hear when I talk about the issues across the state. Men and women alike are fired up about this work! One recent example—when Tim Volk, the former board chair of the Community Foundation, received a $500 grant as thank you for his service as chair, he decided to award the grant to the Women’s Fund in support of our work with Change The Story. We couldn’t be more grateful.

Like Tim, Vermont men and women understand that women’s work is no longer an “add-on” to family life—it is essential. And when women do well, communities flourish.

So thanks to all of you who support our work. For those who want to learn more, please get in touch with me. I look forward to talking with you!

P.S. Be sure to check out the latest report from Change The Story, Women’s Business Ownership and the Vermont Economy—it’s hot off the press! Women’s business ownership is a key issue which plays an important role in not only improving Vermont women’s economic situation but also Vermont’s economy as a whole. Read the report here.

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