Women Partnering is a service that was started with an endowment created by the Sisters of St. Francis of Colorado Springs in 1998 to ‘help meet the unmet needs of women and children in Colorado Springs.’ A research approach was used in which women who were financially vulnerable were given both a speaking and an acting part in order to facilitate a more complete analysis of unmet needs and to mobilize the community for self-reliant development. From July 1999 to June 2000, six financially vulnerable women -Cynthia Embray, Pat Farish, Tanya Gamble, Robin Horton, Diane Watson and Sharon Wilson- partnered with three Sisters of Saint Francis in a research process that focused both on building community and designing and doing research among financially vulnerable women. The recommendations of this research process both initiated and continue to shape Women Partnering.
The research was completed and presented to the Sisters of St. Francis in June 2000. Researchers recommended that rather than create one more program to respond to the unmet needs of women and children who were financially vulnerable that there be the continued development of a network of women from a variety of backgrounds who would walk side-by-side, and build on each other’s strengths, having faith as a bonding force. There needed to be a place where women could go and learn from each other. Women who were financially vulnerable needed to continue to partner with other women in working for empowerment, equity and mutuality.
While focusing on such justice issues as affordable housing, childcare, adequate wages and accessible health care, the women could join with other grass roots groups to work to change policies that negatively impact women and children. A board of women from diverse ethnic, educational, age and life experiences needed to be developed that honored the lived experience and knowledge of financially vulnerable women as much as professional knowledge and experience.
In October 2000 the research and recommendations were shared with providers. In November 2000 the first board meeting was convened. The name for the service was taken directly from the sub-title of the research: Women Partnering. Three co-researchers who were financially vulnerable committed to serve on the board and the others committed to be involved in service.
Our initial objectives
The six months following the establishment of the board were spent developing the board and having the board create the mission, vision and values of Women Partnering; establishing and setting up a place of ministry; developing job descriptions; recruiting and hiring a woman who was financially vulnerable to serve as a co-leader; developing a working relationship with service providers in the community; developing policies and budget related to service; researching legal issues related to advocacy activity; securing volunteer insurance; and beginning to develop a volunteer base. We opened our office on January 2, 2001.
Based on results and recommendations of the research, the board established four committees which represent the four basic foci of Women Partnering’s service:
|Individual Networking||connecting women with needed services|
|Spiritual Networking||connecting with existing groups and individuals providing spiritual opportunities|
|Policy Networking||connecting with policy makers and policy activity|
|Development Networking||forming partnering relationships in and beyond the local community with organizations and service groups.|
Visit our service page to find out how well we do in these areas