One Community Conversations: Meghan Scanlon of Women & Family Life Center

On this episode of One Community Conversations, Paige Slocum speaks with Meghan Scanlon, Executive Women & Family Life Center in Guilford. They discussed how the center is responding to the current situation, and ways that you can offer assistance. 

 

Now with your very strong mission statement, how has that affected or helped through this current situation?

It’s exactly what we stand for. We talk about facing times of uncertainty and people are feeling very much isolated right now. The financial strain is very real for a lot of families that we’re seeing and that are coming to the center virtually right now. So I think it’s really important to be active at this time for the people that need us most. 

What we’ve been working on with the Guilford Foundation and the Branford Community Foundation is to basically put in some cash assistance for individuals that are impacted by the coronavirus. A lot of families that we’ve talked to include a lot of single moms working really hard, working one or two jobs trying to provide for their kids. They just didn’t have the savings to cope with this so it’s completely rocked them. And they’re really scared about how long this is going to go on.

 

Can you explain the application process?

So are our applications online, so you can do it easily from your home, or we do have paper applications that are outside the center at 96 Fair Street in Guilford. You can pick it up, drop it off, so it’s anonymous, nobody’s going to know that you’re applying. We keep all that that information pretty sensitive. 

You will get a phone call from one of our staff just to talk through your application, but also to make sure that you’re connected to other resources in your community. So part of the process is to touch base with everybody. 

I’ve talked to a lot of moms, a lot of women that have said, I can’t believe I’m asking for help. My response is, this is a time in your life that you’re asking for help, but there are so many more times in their lives that they’ve been giving the help. So it comes full circle, and that’s why we’re here. We want to be helpful. There’s no shame and certainly no one is alone in this time. I mean, there are hundreds of thousands of people that have found themselves in this really unexpected circumstance. So I just want them to know that we’re here for them and there’s absolutely no judgment.

 

What span of Connecticut does the Women & Family Life Center reach?

So we serve women from East haven to East Lyme. So we have 16 shoreline towns where women come to us and their families come to us for services, whether it be, trying to navigate getting out of an unhealthy relationship, trying to find a job, trying to access childcare. 

There are so many different resources that we provide. We have social workers on staff that are now virtually on staff that help people through those processes. They take your short term and long term goals and they walk you through them. And they’re really the biggest thing for anybody, whether it’s in this crisis right now, or whether it’s in a crisis that you might have 6 to 12 months from now. We have the resources to help you and you don’t have to do it alone. So if you feel like you are doing it alone, just call us.

 

How can people donate to the foundation, and how are donations dispersed?

There are a couple of different ways you can give. You can absolutely give online. You can give online to Women & Family Life Center, or you can give online to the Guilford Foundation or the Branford Community Foundation

A certain portion from those foundations is coming so that we can give out grants to families. Same thing, if you give to us, that money is going out to families at this time that are impacted by the coronavirus. We still check our mail, we’re there several days a week so you can mail, We’re really in need of gift cards to from local businesses. We want to support local businesses through this time. And I’m giving some gift cards out to families, whether it be for food or gas, or pharmacies for medical needs. That’s really, really helpful to us as well. 

The last thing I’ll say is, you know, we’re a small organization, but we’re doing a lot of big work. So if there is a way for you to become a monthly donor of $5 a month or $10 a month to sustain us moving forward. I think one of the things that all nonprofits are dealing with right now is how do we keep serving the people that we need to serve? So that’s a big piece too. 

We are not a state and federal funded nonprofit. So right now It’s really great that we’re privately funded, because we’re able to help families that are working families that are not qualifying for a lot of state or federal assistance. And so the assistance that we’re giving out, is sometimes all they are going to get. So it’s really important for us to stay and exist so that we can continue to help people throughout.

 

 

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