Women United of Porter County Fights for Stronger Community

Women United of Porter County Fights for Stronger Community
By: Kayla Belec Last Updated: January 23, 2019

With a team of 70 members strong and growing, Women United of Porter County focuses on building a stronger community that fights for the health, education and financial stability of every community member. A facet of United Way of Porter County, Women United PC joins the ranks of more than 165 communities across six countries in empowering others.

Launched in September of 2018, the founders of Women United PC first began meeting with focus groups and partner non-profit agencies last February. The organization teamed up with Recovery Connection to provide life skills classes and social events for women in recovery. Weekly classes include financial stability, resume review, and even crafting lessons. Each member of Women United is asked to host a class every other month at the Recovery Connection office.

“The goal of the program is to offer the support that women in recovery need to develop new hobbies and skills, while letting them know that they are not alone,” said Kasandra Tenbarge, director of development for United Way of Porter County.

Women-United-02Photo by Kathy Ricke with Alice's Table in Valparaiso

Since September, Women United members have served more than 72 women through Recovery Connection. The initiative has set a precedent for further positive change in the community.

“Individual donors and organizations in our community are very interested to support programs in our community that are truly making a difference in improving the quality of life for residents,” Tenbarge said. “Our Women United group is among those programs – by sharing our success stories and keeping the conversation going about our work, we are inspiring individuals and organizations to support our work through financial gifts.”

Women-United-03Photo by Kathy Ricke with Alice's Table in Valparaiso

The group’s strides with Recovery Connection encapsulate its mission.

“Women in our community who are in the process of their recovery journey from addiction very often describe feelings of isolation and rejection from ‘regular’ society,” Tenbarge explained. “It can be hard, for women especially, to make new friends, find new healthy hobbies, and find acceptance. Our group has learned if these women do not feel accepted, they are much more likely to relapse and return to an unhealthy lifestyle.

“Our organization is important because we provide an opportunity every Monday evening at Recovery Connections, where women who are on their recovery journey can come and engage with women in our group through a variety of life skills and lifestyle classes,” Tenbarge said.

Carolyn J. Higgins, a faculty member in the Department of Communication and Creative Arts at Purdue University Northwest, described Women United as “diverse, vibrant, and strong.”

“As a United Way of Porter County board member and the Community Impact Committee Chair, I am inspired by this recent effort to energize our community to use their personal passions, best ideas and unique strengths for the mission of building stronger communities,” Higgins said.

Higgins relishes the opportunity to use her expertise to enrich the organization’s cause.

“I find it compelling to use my experience and knowledge of communication, education and community health to better Porter, LaPorte and Lake Counties through our Women United efforts,” Higgins said.

Higgins held positions in the community health field for over 15 years prior to becoming a full-time faculty member at PNW. She still holds a National Certification as a Community Health Education Specialist.

“It is very rewarding to be able to combine my expertise in community health with my experience in communication and education to help our local communities,” she said.

While Women United PC in its current capacity is still fresh, its impact already runs deep. Tenbarge said the group is learning every step of the way, working continuously toward growth and improvement.

“This is a first-of-its-kind opportunity to serve in our community. We are tracking and measuring results of the program as we go so that we will gain more understanding of how we can help moving forward,” she said. “Any woman is welcome to join our group!”

Women United of Porter County is seeking new members to join the charge. Each member is encouraged to contribute both time and treasure over the course of the year. Visit https://www.unitedwaypc.org/Women-United to learn more.

For more information about PACT Recovery Connection, contact Megan Johnston, Recovery Connection Coordinator at megan.johnston@pactchangeslives.com